Friday, September 2, 2011

One More Day In Pre-press...

And then I'm off until 6:30 PM Wednesday. That gives me almost five whole days away from the print shop. I think of that as an unexpected but pleasant mini-vacation. And I'm gonna need it -- now that I'm back in the pressroom, I'm also going to mandatory twelve-hour shifts every other Saturday, something I've never had to do there in all the time I've worked there, and the 10th of September will be the first one. I'm not happy about this mandatory overtime, but this works out to eighty-four hours on the clock every two weeks and getting paid for eighty-six, as opposed to working just the three nights a week and getting paid for seventy-two hours every two weeks, which I usually did in the ten years I worked in the pressroom. I get more money this way. And these hours are fixed -- no more of this coming in 10- or 11-ish and working until whenever bullshit five days a week (if not six), just 6:30 PM to 6:30 AM Wednesday through Friday, and the same hours every other Saturday.

For a while, this was making me madder than hell. I thought my days of running a printing press were behind me. At one point this morning, the pressroom manager brought the subject up, and I threw my hands up in full just-stay-the-fuck-away-from-me fashion and left him standing there. But later on, I remembered something, and gradually, it calmed me down enough to where I could think straight again.

Two years ago, there were only two people running the press I'm going back to: one guy on day shift, and me at night. I was usually working four ten-hour shifts, Monday through Thursday, beginning at 8:30 PM. Two years ago, this same pressroom manager informed me that we'd be going to four people in the coming weeks, which is the way it had been for years up until the autumn of 2008, when the economy started tanking, and we went through that first round of layoffs. And he asked me, "When you go back to three twelves, do you want the front end of nights, or the back end?" -- the front end being Sunday through Tuesday, starting at 6:30 PM, the back end being what I'm going to next week. I said I wanted the back end. I ended up getting the front end, which really torqued me off. I don't know this for sure, but I think I wound up on the front end in part because those hours conflicted with the bowling night of the guy who got the back end hours. Never mind that I had the most seniority of the four guys assigned to that press, and could have asked for a day shift slot if I'd really wanted one -- or that, by then, I had spent more years working nights than nearly anyone else in the history of that print shop, and for that reason alone, I should have gotten my choice.

Well, I'm getting what I chose, if two years late. When they told me I was going back to the press I used to run two weeks ago, I asked them what my hours would be. They said the back end of nights. Those are the hours I would have asked for if that decision had been mine to make. Because that was the decision I made two years ago, and that's what I remembered. Basically, I was sick and tired of working Sundays. Did that for about seven years. The longer I did it, the more I hated it. Of course, I'll still be doing that every other weekend, getting off at 6:30 AM, but that's okay -- once I'm home Sunday morning, I rest. Come Monday, I should be all right.

As for why I would rather work nights in the pressroom than days, well, I've been working days, for the most part, for a year and a half now, in pre-press. I have seen what goes on there and in the front offices in that time. If it was just stressful, that would be one thing -- there's plenty of that in the pressroom, too. But it's also mean and, to those on salary, thankless. Yeah, there's some meanness directed at people in the pressroom, but in a shit-rolls-downhill way, not a visceral one. And everyone in the pressroom gets time-and-a-half after forty hours in a week, so it's not exactly thankless. Those on nights don't have to deal with the kind of chaos and frustration that plagues the day side. I think I lasted as long as I have there for the sole reason that I spent nine of my eleven-plus years on night shift, away from all that nonsense. I don't want to see any more of that, or what it's doing to people there. Put me on the back end of nights, and leave me there.

My pre-press days aren't entirely over, though. Chances are good I'll be doing what I'm doing now on occasion instead of running a press, depending on pre-press' workload. That will suit me. I've found that I do my best work when I'm left all by myself anyway. I think the powers that be know this, or at least sense it -- from now on, they're going to just give me a to-do list, go home and leave me alone, and I'll take it from there. Fine with me.

Anyway, I see it's getting late. I still have one more day-side shift to go. So, I guess, til further on...

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