Friday, February 20, 2009


I went back to work on the DVD Molding floor last December. It's a tough job, for me at least: on your feet twelve hours, answering alarms, installing things that can be ruined by a speck of dust, doing minor weightlifting. For weeks I would come home sore and exhausted, and sometimes frustrated when things didn't go off flawlessly and like clockwork.

That changed the last week of January. I'm not sure why, but I suddenly found myself more relaxed, more at ease. It's not like the work got easier - the beginning of that rotation was one of the most brutal days I've had - but it was like my attitude changed, and lots of other things changed, too. Things went off flawlessly, like clockwork. And when I walked out, I was no longer sore.

The next day, I was switched onto some different systems, of a design I haven't touched since November of 2007. I got a crash refresher course in the first hours of that second day - and by the afternoon, I was feeling perfectly at ease. For the rest of the rotation I rocked and rolled in there, pounding out the discs with very few problems.

Then I was laid off for nearly three weeks.

I came back to work yesterday and started back in the same place I had last worked. It took some time to re-orient myself, but I did. But soon I was told that I would be spending the afternoon in the place I had been working before, the area where I had most of my experience. OK, no problem. I wrapped things up and after lunch headed over there.

And suddenly all the gear-shifting got to me, and I felt very frustrated and incompetent again. Things did not go as well as they should have, neither yesterday nor today. I tried all the tricks I thought I had learned for approaching the task with a relaxed attitude, but I quickly became overwhelmed. And I hobbled out both days, sore and frustrated.

I don't like feeling incompetent. It's not something I'm used to. It's how I felt during my brief and horrible stint in grad school. It's how I feel when I walk into a hardware store looking for a 3/16" left-handed framistat, and all I can see are rack after rack of things that could be but probably are not what I'm looking for. It's how I felt the one and only time I laced up ice skates and found myself alternately making like the newborn Bambi, slowly drifting backwards, or hurtling into the walls of the rink, injuring myself enough to bleed.

There are two ways of not feeling incompetent. Avoid the situation, or develop the competency.

Tomorrow's another day, the last day of this shortened rotation. I will try to be more relaxed. We'll see how things go.

1 comment:

whimsical brainpan said...

I don't know that this has so much to do with your being "incompetent" (being a bit hard on yourself I think) as it does being in the groove of things. Sometimes things flow smoothly, sometimes not. Given your wacky schedule I can see why you could get off-beat.