6.8.1994

I was watching a rat eat some of the metal target material the other night on the job. It was a good sized gray rat and it was running around underneath the coating machine. It seemed to like the taste of spilled metal target material scraps. I’m sure it died later that night. The target metal varies in size from a small ball bearing to a large marble and we spill them from time to time reloading the vacuum chambers during the T/As. The coating machine has a series of electron beam guns in each chamber and there are target crucibles that we load with metals and chemicals. The beam guns are aimed at the targets and they absolutely fry everything in the crucibles. Sometimes when I have a moment I walk down the middle of the machine on a catwalk at ground level and peer through the observation window at the targets. The stuff inside each crucible is glowing like hot magma, and in a way it’s sort of beautiful.

I hate cleaning the chamber trays. We have to completely scrub them clean after so many runs in the machine. Again I get issued a paint scraper and a wire brush to get the job done. I also get a box of aluminum foil handed to me. Cleaning the pickup truck sized tray is more elbow grease and time than anything else. It’s a mangy tiring job. The leading edge of the top of the tray has to be re-foiled with the aluminum for some reason. I have no idea why really. It’s annoying to do though because the only thing holding it in place is some heavy chicken wire mesh someone bent in a crude fashion to keep it where they want it. It sucks. Oh and I still have to wear a full body chemical suit and respirator the whole time. It’s very uncomfortable.

Out back there is a heavy duty sand blaster booth that is alot of fun to work in. Miguel trained me up on how to use it and sometimes I get to blast the shit out of the metal shields that line each of the vacuum chambers in the main coating machine. You enter a metal box that looks like the inside of a shipping container and put on a blast shield over your head that has a heavy cloth protector for your shoulders and chest. It makes you look like a bell-diver from the pre-world war two era. There’s a big hopper in the back corner of the room that is filled with hundreds of pounds of coarse rusty red grains. The sandblaster gun has so much pressure behind it that when you first fire it up it kicks hard like a firehose on full blast. While I’m spraying each metal shield the grains hit the surface so hard that the metal begins to glow slightly. It’s burly. This is one part of the job I’d like to spend more time on. Sadly we only get to do this every once in a while.

The maintenance imbeciles finally figured out why the drain system wasn’t working hardly at all anymore on the Stripper Booth. Someone else on another shift was complaining about it too so they finally looked into it. The drain pipes are a large diameter PVC and they head way up into the roof from the booth area. From the shop floor they looked normal, but after a long period of time suckin’ up harsh chemicals the inside of the pipe was weakened and it collapsed in on itself and flattened out completely. So hardly anything was getting through. No wonder it was taking forever to drain the chemical wash out. I wish those guys had listened to me the first time I mentioned it weeks ago. Damn losers. The good news is they are going to switch out the drain pipe system with something more rugged. Hopefully it won’t happen again in the future.

Since they’ve been having the bad habit of pulling me off my lunch period to help out with the machine T/As I’ve stopped bringing in my lunch and now I leave the campus to go out to eat. The thing that is crummy about it is the only place on this side of town that’s open late is a Taco Bell. I have been grabbing a couple of chicken rice burritos and a large soda almost every night. It rips up my guts shortly after I’m finished with them. This whole situation is so worthless. I wish there was a late night diner around here somewhere. I don’t dare bring in my lunches anymore because I know they’ll just start hassling me again.

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~ by factorypeasant on October 21, 2004.

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