Corruption at the Plant

Ok, so maybe Thomas Paine wasn't talking about working at an assembly plant when he said, "These are the times that try men's souls.", but I've recently become aware of the truth of these words.  My soul was truly compromised.

A little piece of me died as I filed burrs, drilled holes, and visually inspected those Ford chassis in 30 degree weather.  My whole lifestyle changed--I became a true woman of the night.  I'm not saying that I was better than the plant (ok, maybe a little), but what really killed me was the amount of corruption and waste that was entailed in my job.  I felt like a real Soviet.

Here's the basis of the job: I was hired by a contract company for Magna (the biggest automotive supplier). This company was to represent Magna in quality control.  Apparently the frames that I was checking had metal burrs on the end of the bumper brackets that were cutting the union workers hands.  There were also holes that weren't drilled at the proper angle, so the intended bolts for these holes did not lay flesh with the chassis.  Fair enough.  Sike!

What I slowly realized was that the union worker who supposedly cut himself on one of these burrs was actually looking for some whiskey so he falsely claimed that he injured himself.  In fact, he never once had to touch the chassis because he has a machine to assist in the lifting and attachment of this part.  Basically, I was wasting my time for some good ole' corruption.  How this works is like this: he claims to have hurt himself and report the problem to quality at Ford, who then calls Magna to tell them this mistake is going to cost them, so Magna hires me to check the frames so they don't loose money in any more accidents.  However, the guy won't go to quality if he gets some whiskey.  Same tune, different verse for all the other issues.

My last week I was in charge of inspecting for extra slag on the welding because some woman snagged her $100 Detroit Tiger's jersey.  Dude...you fucking make cars!  Don't wear that kind of shit to a factory job, I'm sorry.  So yeah, I made good money, but it was all such a waste of resources, time, and money.  So much bureaucracy and abuse of power by the UAW it made me sick.

On top of all this, my boss's car got keyed by union workers for driving a foreign car.  My car was fortunately (or unfortunately) got bypassed.  It did get towed, which was a whole other debacle.  Then my boss stopped showing up, instead opting for the bar/strip club and coming back and ganging up on me with other "men".  I've never been so demeaned in my whole life.  Not cool.  I could go on and on.  I won't.

I just had to keep reminding myself that it was a means to an end and an opportunity to learn about a very Detroit culture.

I find it ironic that Paine's words come from a pamphlet entitled "The American Crisis" that was written while the Revolution was floundering, especially considering where we stand as a nation today.  His words inspired soldiers and civilians alike to buck up and endure war so that someday "not a place upon earth might be so happy as America."  And now we use consumerism as patriotism.  Buy American!  Built Ford Tough!


Jessica Chance said...

This sounds completely miserable. I hope you can use the experience somehow, and I'm sure you will. Did you ever listen to that This American Life I mentioned? It's all about the assembly line in Detroit (and more, of course.)

I also have to ask: Did you make a formal complaint against that jackass boss of yours?

Anyhow, thanks for sharing! I really do enjoy this there "pointless" blog of yours. xox

lb said...

Jess, as a born and bred Detroiter, I feel it is super crucial to at least to witness the insides of an assembly plant. And actually, as an American, this holds true too. So, for that I am feel fortunate. I learned a lot about a new culture--and you know how much I enjoy that...even if it's one I don't particularly like.

I never did make a formal complaint against that ass because it would have fallen on deaf ears (part of the corruption) and because I choose my battles much more wisely that I used to.

Thanks for reading my thoughts. I ALWAYS enjoy reading yours.

Keep up the good work!