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Doris has been across England. It just isn't English to have storms and gale force gusts blasted the country, and someone really ought to do something about this freak weather. I mean, really.... But it happened. So I trudged four miles to work in a sort of unsteady zig-zag pattern depending on which way the wind was blowing. Luckily the rain held off. It was damp, a sort of fine spray, but no deluge made my life even more miserable than having to brave the elements each working day and endure the long hours of labour. Feed Me Our new big waster crusher is installed. It cost a vast sum of money - modesty and company privacy prevents me from mentioning the enormous wad of cash the installation has demanded. Over the last few months I've been getting familiar with each small baler and it's foibles. Reliable Olive, bad tempered Barney, lazy old Bob, neglected Nessie, and all the others. The engineer in charge of the new baler inadvertently called it 'Doris', and that is the name by which it shall be called. Doris it is. Now Doris is not a small machine. It's a veritable T Rex of a baler, permanently open mouthed and a 'feed me' expression it's sheet steel face. But times move on, I'm being put back on general duties, and Doris will have new keepers to tend to it's voracious appetite. Good. Boys Will Be Boys The high winds caused other problems for us, not least blowing rubbish down storage racking aisles that imposed obstacles for our long suffering forklift trucks. The answer that the managers conjured was to move an industrial 40ft skip inside the warehouse instead of leaving it out in the yard, so filling it could be done with doors closed. That would be fine, but one young colleague of mine, a former retail manager with a penchant for treating the workplace like an adventure playground, found organising the push as a great chance to climb, point, shout, and generally play at being important. The thing is I watched horrified as he rode the huge skip on top of a ladder whilst the forklift lifted, bumped, and edged the container forwards. That was visibly risky, and as soon as he was separate from everyone else, I headed over to remind him of Health & Safety in the Workplace. You see, in Britain this much hated concern has a very real relevance. If I see someone doing something dangerous and don't report or take action upon it, then any accident is just as much my own fault. That's enshrined in law. LP was not interested in my advice. "Yeah well you keep your opinions to yourself. You're not a manager." He told me firmly over his shoulder. Perhaps, but in view of his disrespect and blatent disregard for his own well-being, I had a word with a team leader who had a word with him. Of course that has now soured the relationship. We used to converse and joke together but frankly someone who once worked as a manger and keeps going on about becoming one again really ought to know better. He doesn't. His understanding of industrial practises are woeful, his attitude increasingly self important as managers come to rely on his organisational flair. Nonetheless, just as he reminded me, he isn't a manger either. And lately he's been given some very hard lessons on activity within the workplace, responsibility, and the prerogatives of status. Silly boy. But life is a learning process and hopefully for him, a safer one. Holiday Procedure of the Week This most coveted award must go to the agency I work for. I discovered a few days ago that if I don't book all my outstanding holiday by March 31st, I lose them, and the pay that goes with it. Oh great. Three Bank Holidays and a Spring Shutdown with no holiday allowance left afterward? Worst still, they gave me conflicting instructions on how to book a holiday. So as in most cases of these kinds, my internal emotional thermometer went straight to boiling point and angry phone calls were followed by visits of the agency rep to put me straight. A peace treaty concluded, I was told that my outstanding entitlement - which has to be calculated at Head Office - will be passed on to me by the end of the week. No, the end of the next week. No, the Wednesday after that. What a farce. Holiday request pending.
Another local newsletter fell through my letter box the other day. It seems our fair town of Swindon wants to change, wants to progress, wants to become a cultural vanguard. Yeah? Really? The civic leaders and planners trumpeted that line thirty years ago, which shows how little vanguarding they managed to achieve. One of their former pet projects, the 'circus tent' market hall, is to be demolished which has alarmed local traders who can't afford the high street premises. The planners haven't said so, but clearly that building wasn't the success they dreamed of. Worse is yet to come. Finally approving a plan to restore the old Victorian era Locarno building, currently a burned out shell, what do I see? Restaurants. Lots of restaurants. Swindon was once known for having the greatest concentration of drinking dens in one square mile, now it wants to be known as the place where you stuff yourself silly. As if it has escaped the attention of planners that many of our local restaurant premises are vacant or closed for business. But it seems you can't have culture without places to consume expensive gourmet food. Hmmm... But most of those premises aren't open commercially.... A Bird In The Rafters At work I left the rest area and headed back toward the warehouse floor, a daily ritual that one must complete with strict adherence to the timetable or suffer the wrath of management. On this particular day I met a guy by the forklift garage, holding an extensible plastic rod that was wobbling right up the top of our modern tin shack. A bird was trying to nest in the steel beam rafters. Not the usual pigeon - those birds seem to nest anywhere and don't much care who walks underneath - but a large heron, a bird more accustomed to natural waterside surroundings. I watched as it got fed up of being prodded and effortlessly winged its way to another perch, where it would await another prodding. Lovely bird, but it can't stay in the warehouse. I wonder why it came inside? To find a safe nesting spot? Seeking a warmer nesting spot? Or perhaps it was looking for a restaurant? Working With Machines One job I regularly undertake is compacting cardboard and plastic rubbish in hydraulic baling machines. They're powerful beasties, crushing the waste with 3,000lbs/sq in (Hey, imperial measurements buddy - we're talking Brexit here). The amount of packaging used by car parts suppliers is enormous and you would expect it to be, since each article has to arrive at the production line absolutely spotless and perfect. The only problem is of course that I have to let the other two shifts use 'my' machines when I'm not there, and what a mess they make. Wires not properly installed making it difficult to extract the finished bale, or more usually, simply over-filling the machine until it isn't possible to bale it at all. Oh no. They've done it again. So I have to open the doors and let the rubbish cascade out onto the floor and repack it properly. And stop well meaning colleagues from trying to stop the rubbish coming out. Life is full of action and adventure in waste management. The managers of course know the problem exists. They would do - I've told them - but nothing seems to improve. Oh well. At least there's been no weekend working for me to put right. One of the welding robots stopped working and its replacement caught fire. Technology is great isn't it? Election Ploy Of The Week Okay, against all odds, Donald Trump won enough Electoral College votes and that makes him President-Elect. But what do I hear? One party in America has decided the voting system has been hacked, and wants a recount. If enough states do that, and it only needs one or two, Hilary Clinton is technically the winner. Imagine that? Of course if Donald gets trumped at the last call - can they do that in America? - Clinton would likely be the least popular president ever. Now there's an achievement.