I’m Finally a Factory Worker…Sort of

It may seem a really odd dream, but when I grew up, I wanted to work in a factory. Of course, the image of a factory is often ugly and depressing. In movies, it is always a grimy job full of miserable people with no future to look forward to.

For me, though there was always something romantic about the factory, the engine that has fueled out whole modern life. It’s thousands of people working together to achieve a single goal: making the same perfect object over and over again. That may sound hokey, but it’s always a dream I’ve cherished.

You can imagine how big last week was for me, then, when I finally set foot in a factory, it was a pretty big deal. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, I don’t know yet, I wasn’t working in the factory, or at least not on the line. I’ve gone a different direction with my career. I’ve trained to be an expert in making sure factories are compliant with all environmental codes. It’s a slightly cleaner job, but one that should still let me spend a lot of my time in the factory. As a bonus, I’ll be working to make things cleaner and healthier for everyone, which might go some way towards getting people to change their stereotypes about what it means to work in a factory.

The job is a lot more complicated than you might expect. There are tons of codes on the book on the federal and state level. Plus, there’s all sorts of technological innovations I have to keep up to date on.

Still, it’s wonderful to be out there, to be part of it. I can spend my lunches with the other workers and spend some time walking along the line.

If there’s a downside, it’s only that I feel like a tourist there. The people working the line have been there for years, some for decades, and they know their job so well. They know the business top to bottom, and they know each other the same way. I’ll certainly get to know my side of things more as I get used to the position, but I move around so much, I doubt I’ll ever get to really be a part of that camaraderie.

That’s the price I’ll pay, I suppose, for taking the white collar work I’m in now instead of going straight into a factory. Still, this job has far better prospects than a factory job. The sad fact is, there’s just no certainty in American factories anymore, and I’ve already overheard I don’t know how many conversations about that very concern.

I hope we somehow manage to save these beautiful, massive works of industry. Not just because I love the work, but because they are so important to who we are. If we can clean them up, like I’m trying to help them do, I don’t see why we couldn’t turn into another Germany, and keep those factories open indefinitely.

Anyway, I just thought I’d share my thoughts.