Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Looks Like It's Official...

My career as a press operator seems to be over. Actually, I haven't run a press since March; I was moved to the pre-press department then. And if I'm reading everything going on at the print shop correctly, that department is where I'll be staying. The company hired two new people for the pressroom, and let one guy hired on earlier this year go. I don't know what was going on there, since he was working nights and I rarely even saw him around -- hell, I didn't even have a chance to get to know him, working on the day side now. It was probably a lowest-on-the-totem-pole deal.

Whatever the case, they're fully staffed in the pressroom now. They don't really need me there. I'm definitely needed in pre-press, though -- that department continues to get slammed with new orders, and they're still preparing orders for the plant in New Jersey as well. It is amazing what these folks go through just to complete one day's work. There were times while I was running a press that I thought the pre-press people had it made -- I mean, there they were, sitting in their air-conditioned room at their computers and listening to the department head's iTunes by day, and there I was in that noisy kiln of a pressroom sweating my balls off by night. Then one day, I was put in pre-press, and quickly learned that I was greatly mistaken. It may not be as physically demanding as running a press, but these people work just as hard, if not harder, than press operators do.

I say "these people" because even though I'm in their department now, I still think of myself as an operator. That's what I was for several years, and if I were to be put back on a press, that's what I'd go right back to doing, much like remembering how to ride a bike. These folks do graphic design, and that's a whole other ball of wax to me. I've picked up bits and pieces of that part of the business over the last five months, but most of the rest of it remains friggin' Egyptian to me. What I do is the bulk of the manual labor so that they can concentrate on the graphics aspects -- I burn the plates and carve up a good portion of the digital proofs for the operators. In a couple ways, I have to look after five presses instead of one now, so that can be an occasional headache. Then again, it manages to beat the hell out of sweating my balls off on the press at 1 AM. I'm getting too old for that shit.

Thing is, I'm low man on this totem pole. Sometime within the next few months, business will slow down. It does every year. I can never rule out getting laid off, even though I've been with this print shop going on eleven years and am one of its more versatile employees. It could happen.

But for now, things are fairly stable. I shouldn't really complain...

3 comments:

  1. Job security. Scary thing. Today we had a meeting about a future release. When ti came to my turn, I offered that I had completed everything that was due and was ahead of the next deadline. You'd think that was good, but all I could think was, "I make this look too easy so they probably think it is easy so they probably think they can get someone else to do it for less money."

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  2. Well, I don't know what you do for a living, but everyone at the place I work knows that you don't just pull some guy off the street to run a printing press. It's an acquired skill. And every machine seems to have its own personality -- people who have run presses at other companies have struggled to run presses here. If a situation comes up where they're short an operator, they know they have a back-up in me, and that I'm familiar with some of the machines.

    Not saying that I have job security. But I do have a few things going in my favor...

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  3. Wow -- real changes for you. Even with slowing, it is likely that what you do will still have its utility.

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