Installment 2 of the Godzilla Tool CNC Machine Operator Series
I had not looking for a job in a CNC machine shop.
I have a B.A. in English and I could've been looking for work as a copywriter, a journalist, in public relations, or as a freelance writer. However, since none of these lives are why I went to college and the job market is poor to begin with, I am trying my hand in light industry (LI.)
I got my first real start in LI when I worked as seasonal package handler during the 2011 holiday peak season for FedEx Ground. Next came Magnaflow, a manufacturer of catalytic converters and mufflers, in January 2012, but I was soon injured and laid off. February and March 2012 were long frustrating months of job hunting.
I learned about the machine operator job at Godzilla Tool (fictional name to protect myself and the innocent) through Craigslist. In the job posting, job seekers were advised to report to Godzilla's local building on Tuesday or Thursday between 10am and 2pm. I went on Thursday.
Not the place I work. photo: www.wilsonprecisiontool.com
When I arrived at Godzilla in one of my city's industrial parks, there were two large, rectangle-shaped tables set out on a lawn next to the building. Both were full with mostly young men of color hunched over completing their applications. Additionally, there was a small line of more men (no women) at the front door waiting to be handed applications and even more applicants milling in the vicinity filling out their paperwork on their laps, their car hoods, or on books.
After completing my application, I rang the buzzer at the front door and was invited into a small air-conditioned lounge with two leather sofas and a corny and annoyingly-bright painting of a full jazz club in the 1920's. In addition to my completed application, I had brought my resume, which listed my experience at FedEx Ground and Magnaflow.
After a few minutes, a perky, blonde secretary greeted me and another job applicant, quickly scanned our paperwork, and green-lit us. After saying
She said, "have a good afternoon," and disappeared through a door out of the lounge.
A few weeks later, while I was working as Traffic Director at, posh La Costa Resort and Spa, my phone rang and the caller ID read "Private Caller." Uncharacteristically of me, I answered, and it was Sonny from Godzilla.
A few hours later, I was in the same air-conditioned lounge where I'd been before. The full-house jazz club painting was still there, so antithetical, in tone, to the plight of looking for work as a declassé during a recession in the first world. Sonny, a middle-aged Caucasian with a medium-sized pot belly, completely-white hair, and a mustache like the crazy Westboro Baptist minister, appeared. He greeted me warmly and then led me through the door into the offices.
My interview was in a small, soul-killingly-dull (off-white walls with zero decoration), tornado's-just-been-through type of office. Upon arrival here, Sonny disappeared. There were three shabby chairs. Two men interviewed me. Paul, another Caucasian in middle age with a pot belly that made him look like a pregnant woman in the seventh month who works out a lot, pockmarks on his face, dark, pretty eyeballs, and a military flat-top. He was in blue jeans, a sports sweater, and hiking boots. My other interviewer was Chad, a younger Caucasian a baby face and the blue eyes to go with it. He also had a flat-top, and from what I could gather, an un-stellar IQ.
I did very well. I told them all about what a crazy, frenetic house of dark humor it means to be a Holiday seasonal package handler for FedEx Ground, but that I did well. I also explained that I excelled as a package handler because I listen to directions and have an eye for detail and keeping things in order. When talking about Magnaflow, I said that my shift leader was, so pleased with my work ethic, that I was one of the very few new workers given a choice between first and second shift goinf forward, had I continued to work there. I also talked about who, pretty soon, I became the primary delegate for Quality Control on my assembly line because I gave all the passing mufflers and catalytic converters the hawkeye treatment.
"Well!" Paul and Chad exclaimed.
And by the way, during said interview I really wish I had gone in with a recording device (something I recommend). I might have saved myself the trouble of working for a couple of years and gone to Europe and Eurasia with the money I might have won in a civil rights suit against Godzilla.
Well, maybe I'm exaggerating, but Paul did ask me point-blank if I was married and at another point of the interview, Chad asked what my hobbies were. I mentioned running and he interrupted me by "joking:" "as in running from the police?" as he set his arms at right angles and swung his shoulders in a type of mimicry (Now do you see how I gathered that this guy is not the plumpest orange in the orchard?) HA! HA! It's so funny to laugh at how men of color are stereotyped as criminals running from the law. And, one's marital status is an appropriate query in selecting an employee? Sure!
Infamy. Photo: www.scpr.org/blogs/
Alas, I was not recording the interview and had to settle with the fine feeling of having had interviewed well and intuiting that I would be called again instead, of trying to sue Godzilla for that trip to Europe, where I would've promptly seduced a Moscovite dame, and lived happily ever after, studying literature in the land of Chekhov, Dostoevsky, and Tolstoi; and for civil rights!
As expected, Sonny called me early the following week and told me to report to work on a Thursday at 11 a.m., for training. That day I dressed, ready for work, in a black long-sleeve, blue Dickies, a lumbar brace, goggles, and steel-toe boots, and I filled my Thermos bag with food, only to learn that Sonny's idea of "training" was touring the fucking facility. When, after thirty minutes of pretending to be interested, sometimes fascinated, of shaking lots of hands, exchanging perfunctory "nice to meet yous," Sonny told me, and two fellow trainees, Mister-E, a young white boy, and Renato, an old Mexican, that we'd be starting in two weeks, we all looked at each other like we would be happy to stick Medieval era swords into his eyes. Renato vowed to not return, and kept his word.
Two weeks, on the dot, afterward, I showed up for work at 10 p.m. and, for a minute, thought I may have been hoaxed, because it took me a half-hour to find the entrance to the shop after searching for it in the glass-wall front of the building instead of the grimy, oil-stained parking spots, fluorescent-lit rear of the building.
I was on full-time on the graveyard shift, after previoulsy being told I'd be part-time on the first shift.
It was the beginning of April 2012 and I started at $9.50 per hour.