ETAP

I don’t know who my immediate supervisor is anymore. Seems like every couple of months I’m assigned to somebody else and most of them I’ve never met before. They don’t matter much and I’ve found it’s easy to side-step them when bosses decide to get in the way. For the most part I ignore them and keep working. Every six months though, you have to sit down in cubicle-land for a one-on-one meeting with your boss and receive a performance review.

My supervisor this month is a 20-something year old accident-prone skinny bleached blonde lady I nicknamed Hee-Haw. Back in the late 60s there was a redneck TV show called “Hee Haw” and it featured a bunch of podunk white trash folks living in dirt floor shacks doing sketch comedy only podunk white trash folks would understand. That’s assuming this particular breed of podunk white trash lived someplace with electricity and had a working television. Between unfunny skits or commercial breaks, a cartoon mule with big buck teeth and a whole lotta gums would open it’s mouth wide and make an obnoxious “hee-haw” sound. At the time I saw episodes of that show I was a kid. Everything about Hee Haw bugged the shit out of me although I didn’t know why I hated it so much. Too little to figure it out I suppose. Anyway my boss has a whole mouthful of gums and very little in the tooth department so she reminded me of the Hee Haw mule. Every time she smiles at me I want to hand her a feed bag full of oats and help her strap it on to her face so she can grub out in style.

During my performance review with Hee Haw, she asked me if I would like to become a technician. That’s something I’ve given thought to lately. It would take two years of full time school at a local junior college, or four years going part time. I know my limitations, I’m very weak with math. Math is a big part of the tech program so I am intimidated by that. Also, I severely dislike school. The thought of being in school for years in order to become a tech makes me unhappy. Discussing my feelings about the technician program and school with Hee Haw made her come back on me more forcefully. She wants me to be a tech and she said she will put more pressure on me until I sign up.

There is another avenue of approach to becoming an electronic technician here at Bill and Dave’s company. Years ago they set up a program called ETAP, which stands for Electronic Technician Apprentice Program. The way that works is, you enroll in the tech program at junior college and attend classes part time. At work you get to move into tech jobs and every six months they roll you into a different product area so you get all kinds of varied hands-on work experience.

Upon completing technical school the company hires you in as a mid-level tech which is pretty good money. It’s not a bad deal, but there are some problems. Support for ETAP from management appears to be waning. I’ve talked with guys that are currently in ETAP or just finished up tech school. Instead of being hired in as techs working directly in a position they were trained for, supervisors are using them as glorified testers. ETAP graduates aren’t getting into troubleshooting defective PC boards or figuring out busted instruments. Nobody in management is encouraging them to do so anymore. They’re just shuffling boxes around from station to station running automated tests. Anybody can do that without schooling. And what if we start laying off people? New technicians will be low on the totem pole and probably lose their jobs before anybody else does. Right now I’m firmly established in the company with years of senority backing me up. If I move into the tech realm I’ll be back down on the bottom rungs of the ladder again.

I thought about Hee Haw’s proposal and I asked for a short term compromise. If she would be willing to let me get my feet wet doing more technical work somewhere in the production area, I could find out if I like it and decide if I can handle tech stuff. Maybe then I would be more willing to enroll in school and take the ETAP approach to becoming a technician. Hee Haw was cool with my suggestion, she agreed to set something up. For now I have to wait and see what happens. She finished up our meeting by giving me a positive performance evaluation. Right on.

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~ by factorypeasant on December 6, 2005.

7 Responses to “ETAP”

  1. There were some Technicians that worked at Bill and Daves that didn’t finish the technician program. They managed to weasel their way through the process and avoid the school. One of them was me.
    TC

  2. You’ve got an “a” where you should have an “an” fourth paragraph, first sentence.

    I know you said the journals have all been transcribed and that you’re writing mainly from memory now, but how long ago did this take place? It always feels like right now when I read your work.

  3. TC- yeah i knew of a few people that were able to do that. lucky bastards…

    Wad- this was around 2000, some months before the company breakup.

  4. grrr me not liking u very much… grrrr

    why do i sound liek jar jar binks??

    **looks strangly at self in mirror**

  5. St Jimmy-

    you gotta stop sniffing rubber cement fumes, man. it’s not doing you any good. trust me.

  6. I feel very lucky that as a professor I am not really “supervised” much. I pretty much do my thing. I have issues with weird supervisors.

    -N

  7. Natalia-

    yeah i know exactly what you mean. i’m more of a self-reliant person on the job. i worked on swing shift most of the time because there wasn’t any managers around. generally they left at 5pm every day. so i only had to see them for a couple of hours at most.

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