...the call came last night that my basement had water in it; so this morning I told my boss (when I happened to see him) that I'd prefer to go with the original plan of me only working M-Th this week (rather than M-F) so I could go home and perform damage control.
He okayed it, so I repaired to my hotel to clear my junk out of the room before check-out time, to save them a day's rental. (Yes, my employer paid for the hotel for the "trial period". That was very, very nice of them.)
Boss told me that they're going to give it another week...but--this is the frustrating part--gave no indication whatsoever what he thought of the job I'm doing. Nothing good, nothing bad; just nothing. "Hey, [stuff that has nothing to do with the issue under discussion here]. Anyway, we'd like to do another week like this and see how things go."
You may recall that was one of the things that was bothering me before starting day: the conditions for success are not defined, at least not to me. I don't know what they're expecting of me--and after four days there I for damn sure ought to have some freakin' clue, oughtn't I?
I made a plethora of stupid mistakes and wasted a bunch of time drilling and tapping holes in the wrong spots of a frightfully expensive steel work table. I'm not entirely certain but I think I may have made another mistake with the placement of some other holes, the ones used to mount the support arch for a buffing compound feeder.
Well--I'm going to plead extenuating circumstances with this, though. Instructions: "Set up this robot cell just like that one next to it." No schematics. Measuring tools: an 8' pocket tape measure (that can't be locked to hold a length) and a plastic triangle.
Additional information: "This corner of this machine has to be X inches from here and Y inches from there." So I measured from the corner...and it turned out he'd measured from a different part of the corner than I had. To me, "corner" means the place on the base where the two sides meet. To him, "corner" meant the place on the mounting flange where the two sides meet, which is about 3" from the bolt hole in the corner. Yeah.
Oh, and the angle of the machine is established by "center this line on the robot's base."
The arch for the compound feeder--"put it about two inches in front of the machine's spindle." I really needed a plumb bob, which is essentially just a weight on a string, and I couldn't find one, so I had to locate it the hard way: by taking a piece of "erector set" and standing it next to the spindle, and making a mark, and then checking it on the other side, and making a mark there, and-and-and.
...they have CAD machines there. Why isn't there a schematic drawing of this stuff? With actual dimensions and callouts so a guy who's trying to set up a robot cell for the very first time in his life can actually measure locations for bolt holes and verify that they're right against a hardcopy image? Rather than an image which exists in one guy's head?
The most concrete definition of what my job is came from the guy I'm there to supplant. He told me this morning that he needs someone to handle a bunch of scut-work so he can work on sanding programs, etc, etc. But that's not what I get from the owner and his son; from them, I get this nebulous, airy talk about how they need someone who can "transform" the way they use robots...at least, I think that's what they mean, because I can grab onto it about as well as I can grab fog...and the guy I work with has no more information on that point than I do, which is why he told me what he wants me to do.
I do recall the owner telling me, during one of the phone calls that led up to my employment, "We need an energetic individual who can transform the way we use robots." And Monday afternoon, the boss (the owner's son) told me that they need someone who can focus on a single task and move it to completion. That's pretty much the opposite of what my trainer/coworker said he wants from me, which is for me to--every time this machine sounds an alarm--drop what I'm doing and reload it; or to go over there and help so-and-so reload grippers; or to provide technical support in his place...so he can focus on writing sanding programs.
I think that the bosses don't know themselves what they expect from me. That's a situation which dooms me to failure, because when I have to guess what people expect from me, I always end up guessing wrong. I have a feeling if I do what my coworker/trainer wants, the bosses will be disappointed and tell me I'm no longer needed there.
...I'm not entirely sure that would be a bad thing at this point, either. I'm pretty unhappy, and I don't really know why.
What I do know is that I'm not going to be doing any "transforming" of anything as long as I'm sitting in a factory, making holes in steel plate with tools that a carpenter from the bronze age would have scorned. (Well...except for the electromagnetic drill. That thing's almost spooge-inducing.) And then being told to do it over because I put the holes in the wrong places.
Oh--but yesterday they got a real tape measure and an honest-to-goodness square for the robotics department. And today the erector set parts that I was lacking finally came in, but I still couldn't finish the cage because the plexiglass panels haven't been cut yet!
If anyone at that place thought I could build an entire robot cell in a week--not get the thing running production programs, just assembled--well, I might have been able to do it if they'd had the parts and the tools and the information ready. But this hit-or-miss, haphazard way? Hell no. Two weeks will require luck.
The pedestal for the robot didn't arrive until today, for crying out loud, and the mounting holes for it were the first ones I drilled. On MONDAY. Shit.
...but I can't quit. I don't have the luxury; jobs that pay like this one do not come around all that often, particularly not in this economy. I'm making about what I made at R-C, though hourly rather than salaried. It's pretty decent money, considering; and so I have to keep soldiering on regardless because I simply have no other options.
But if things continue like this I doubt that will matter, because these guys are going to see zero transformative processes and give me the boot. (Assuming, of course, that I understand what they want, upon which I would not bet.)
The basement situation gives me a little reprieve, anyway.
I hated being in that hotel, too, for reasons I have trouble defining. Maybe it was just too lonely without my cats; but getting out of there and being able to come home felt like getting out of a trap.
Gadzooks, what a mess.