Sunday, September 4, 2016

Art Foundry Job

Last Thursday, I got a - well I'm sure not what, I filled out tax documentation, so I suppose it's a real job, but I'm guessing more of a probationary - job at West Supply.

West Supply is the premier art foundry in Chicago, making high end quality stuff, mainly furnishings.

When I did the interview and got a tour two weeks ago, I walked through the factory with the foreman, and at every station I said to myself "I know that", "I can do that", I can do that", "I know how to do that better", but was smart not enough to express my opinions. I just observed and nodded and said "Cool!" a lot. I'm smart enough not to be know-it-all smart-ass in interviews.

I did get weird looks. I mean, I am the oldest guy by decades in that establishment. Most of them are kid artists right out of grad school. They also had to figure, from looking at my resume, why the hell do you want to start here at the ground floor.

Well, that's easy enough. I'm awesome, they're awesome, and I wish to add my awesomeness to the mix. Given the high turnover with the disenchanted millennials, I could be Uncle John before you know it. And I'm pretty sure they need an Uncle John. Not an authority figure Uncle John, but a step-in-to-any-position-and-get-the-job-done Uncle John. We'll see if their vision corresponds with mine.

So, Thursday, my first day, and I am assigned to bottom-feeder gate-cutting and rough grinding of pieces straight from the foundry. This is a dirty, sweaty job involving hammering off ceramic shell, heavy lifting, and lots of cutting through inches thick  bronze with a right angle grinder with a cutoff wheel. I have to admit, after an hour, I said maybe I'm not cut out for this. But then I got into the swing of things, and tried my best to kick major ass.

It was actually fun, and kind of relaxing. I worked smart, lifted and hammered smart, and only pinched my fingers and thumbs once or twice, I could tell this job would mean I don't need to go to the gym quite as often. Felt stronger and endorphin-pumped by the end of the day.

The only problem was the dust and metal fines. They gave me a respirator, and I brought my own grinding gear, but my neck was unprotected.  I suffered from the itchy prickly heat for a day afterwards. A little Benadryl spray took care of that, but I need to get better clothing. If they intend to keep me on in rough grinding, I need to go full gimp mode and get completely covered. I need to get some face hoods in the long run, and a long-sleeved cotton turtle neck for the short run.

I don't know what management thought about my performance, but hopefully I made a good impression.


  1. Congratulations! Skills will always pay the bills. That said, I can only imagine the politics that inhere in such a place. Shit, people have the nerve to trot their feelings out in contexts as crisply black and white as IT and accounting. Be careful not to inadvertently exhibit knowledge, ability, or stamina conducing to invidious comparison with/by the millenial darlings.

    1. Probably too late for the strength and stamina part, and my station was spotless and empty at the end of the day. The foreman seemed a little annoyed at that (though that could have been me misreading cues). I will keep a low profile and nose to grindstone, but it's not in my nature to lollygag.

  2. well, yay. if they have any sense at all they will be high fiving themselves for hiring you.