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2/25/14

How I Won the Right to Sit Down at Godzilla Tool

(From the time during my stint as a machinist at a local CNC machine shop)

After more than three months working at Godzilla, I finally won the right to sit. In the end, there was nothing to fight or fear. Contrary to my co-workers Clark and Lee, the "bogeyman" was not going to come and eat them alive if they defied Rob's chauvinist attitude towards the mere act of sitting down in the workplace or Genaro's oppressive strictness. 

It turned out that, behind the smokescreen of self-imposed control by my fellow workers and arbitrary bullying disguised as "supervising" by Rob and Genaro, there was nothing to feel guilty or ashamed of if they need to sit down. 

Paul, the production manager of the Godzilla production shop (Rob and Genaro's supervisor) and thus, the only person that mattered, does not share his subordinates' obsession with prohibiting any manner of rest during work. 

My victorious coup de grace against the unspoken "don't sit" rule happened on the morning of Wednesday, July 4. It was 4:30am and things were very slow in the shop on account of the upcoming Independence Day holiday. I had nothing to do except monitor three CNC machines, two of which were right in front of me, and another, I was monitoring using the timer on my watch. An hour earlier, or so, I had wiped the machines down, swept the floors, and collected the garbage. 

In front of my machines is a small bay where an office chair with a high backrest sits, always empty during the night. Warily--for I knew that neither Rob nor Genaro would approve--I sat down and relaxed, monitoring my machines and my timer. 5 a.m., the time that Paul comes into the shop, came in the blink of an eye and it just so happened that once he was inside, he turned in my direction. I hadn't noticed his entrance and sat contentedly in the chair when we crossed gazes. I waved at him and he smile in acknowledgement. 

No problem! I can sit! The manager just watched me sitting and he greeted me happily! Paul continued to his office and I remained in the chair, relieved. No longer than a few minutes passed when Genaro hung a sharp left around the corner behind me and made a beeline towards me.  

Hey! You! You can't sit down!

Why not? (This is my supervisor, mind you.)


He didn't like this. He stamped a foot, clenched his fist (pointing his index finger at me,) bobbing it up and down in front of him and raised his voice.  

Because were having problems with people sitting down! 

What problems? 

It doesn't matter! Paul doesn't like for you to sit down! 

Genaro snapped a rag in the air. 

I think if Paul doesn't like what I'm doing he'll come and tell me about it.  

I remained seated, calm and nonchalant. 

Genaro stomped both feet on the ground this time, threw his rag over his shoulder, snapped his mouth, frowned at me, and began marching pointedly towards Paul's office, like we were in grade school and he was going to tell on me with the principal. 

An apprehension came over me, wondering what Paul would end up doing. I weighed the pros and cons of defying Paul if he sided with Genaro. I paced back and forth as Genaro remained out of sight, and having his conference with Paul. Finally, I returned to my seat and a few minutes later, Genaro was back in the shop fixing machine problems.  

Paul reentered the shop. I was sitting and saw him out of the corner of my eye. I thought, Oh shit! Should I stand up now? I didn't, I stayed in the chair. His gait and demeanor were friendly. 

I thought it was strange that he did not come to talk with me. After all, Genaro had just gone to "tell on me." So I took the initiative, approached him, and broached the subject. 

I don't have a problem with you sitting down. But I do want to let you know that starting today I'm asking all loaders to wait for the machine to start cooling before they move on.

His second sentence had nothing to do with the issue of sitting. He had moved on and it was clearly not a problem. I had won! 

Still, though, I wanted to make sure that all wrinkles were smoothly ironed. 

Paul, about the sitting down. I'm in charge of three machines right now. These two are in front of me so I can't lose track of when they need to be reloaded. And see that machine over there which screen I can't see? Well, I'm timing that on my watch.

A timer! I like that! No, no, as long as you are on top of your machines, I don't mind if you sit down. 

Now, when I sit down I do so without fear and I've added a new accessory to my recreational performance. Books. 

After all, what's the difference if I'm going to be sitting down anyway. I may as well read the latest Russell Banks novel.