My new job as a technician at the Optical Coating Lab has been going OK so far. When I first started there I was extra nervous. Another employee from Bill and Dave’s that I know well had started two weeks before me and someone sabotaged him, so he was fired. They said the reason he was let go was because of safety violations but I’m not buying it. His name is Jeff and I’ve worked with him in the PC board department for a little over a year. He was always a hard worker and very conscious of safety so I think something else was up when they fired him here. Jeff told me more than likely he was kicked out because his trainer had a personal problem of some sort with him.

Jeff was on swing shift with me and Senor Random at Bill and Dave’s. Senor Random worked with him in Racking for a long time so obviously he knows Jeff much better than I do. When Jeff got hired over at the Optical Coating Lab, he was trained improperly by Miguel. Miguel taught him how to do some of the work using his special unsafe methods and then he went to his supervisor and finked on Jeff. The manager came out onto the shop floor and yelled at him. I guess Jeff was so angry he later caught up to Miguel and had words with him. Called him a backstabber and shit. To get even with Jeff for yelling at him, Miguel went back to management and told them Jeff delibrately sprayed him in the eyes with Acetone, twice. Even though it was a total lie, the supervisor took Miguel’s word on it and they fired Jeff. I seriously doubt Jeff would ever have done that to anyone.

I’ve had the misfortune of being trained by the same guy. I don’t like Miguel too much. He’s an asshole. On the job he’s kinda lazy and really full of himself. I’m not impressed. As a trainer showing the new guy the ropes he sucks. While he’s been taking me around the plant and teaching me how to operate some of the equipment he’s been showing me all his special shortcuts for getting the work done. I found out later from talking to Jeff that Miguel was trying to delibrately mislead me to see if I would follow his example or question him on why he was not following the written procedures. I would never have performed any of the tasks the way he was working because it was just too stupid. Fortunately I followed the procedures and ignored him. Miguel told me later on he was testing me but I think more than likely he was just fucking with me to see if he could get me fired too. Bastard. After the 18th of this month Miguel will be on another shift so at least I won’t have to work with the loser anymore.

As a technician here I have a number of completely different tasks from what I was doing at Bill and Dave’s. There is a bunch of factory floor work that has to be done throughout the night. Instead of working on electronics I’m now working on a color shifting anti-counterfeiting product that’s used in money. The story I’ve heard so far is that years ago the U.S. Government approached the lab and helped them by funding their research to develop a color shifting counterfeit deterrent for U.S. greenbacks. After years of work the lab successfully invented a useable anti-counterfeiting product. For some reason by the time it was ready the Government wasn’t interested in it anymore*. They left the company holding the bag with no customer. So, the lab shopped what they had around until a Swiss company was interested in it. The Swiss have been the sole customer ever since then and they use it to print currency for close to twenty European countries. Anyway to make this operation happen we have to stage up supplies at various machines using specialized forklifts and we have to do what they call Turn Arounds or T/A’s a couple times in the shift.

The T/A’s are stressful because there is alot to do in an incredibly short period of time. The work is also really uncomfortable as we have to perform it wearing full body chemical suits and respirators. It’s hard physical labor. They shut down one of the coating machines and they send us into a vacuum chamber that’s big enough to fit a large car. All of us are handed a wire brush and a metal paint scraper. Inside the chamber there is a layer of chemical and metal deposit that we have to chisel and scrub out before they can reload the chamber and seal it for the next run. After just a few minutes of chiseling away I get so sweaty that the inside of my respirator fogs up and then I can’t see what the fuck I’m doing. It kinda sucks. There are two vacuum chambers on each of the machines so we have two teams working one per chamber during the T/A. We have only 30 minutes to completely clean out both chambers. The coating machines are huge. They dug down deep into the concrete foundation of the building and installed them so that they fit nicely inside the two story roof line, but they are actually three stories tall. From the outside of the facility you’d never know anything like it would be inside.

*A few years later the U.S. Government came back to the lab and began to use the color shifting pigment on $20 bills.


~ by factorypeasant on October 15, 2004.

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