Devil Working Hard (freewrite)

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Today was an annoying day at work. There were both mistakes that could have been avoided, and unexpected errors due to the lunar cycle or a butterfly flapping its wings on the other side of the world.

I deal with aluminium pieces, complex milling machines and error margins at a fraction of a millimetre. Did I mention I have no education for this and only a few months of learning as I go on the field? Yeah, errors will be made.

See the thing is what I do is simple, very very simple factory work, same thing over and over again, but only if everything goes well. Life is easy when it goes as you plan or expect it to, but it rarely does so what matters is how you deal with the unexpected and unknown. You have to keep yourself educated and vigilant at all times. It doesn’t help if you only had three hours of sleep the night before.

I’m at that stage of the learning curve where I think I know a bit after milling some 500 pieces of the same exact part, but also I know there is a huge uphill still ahead.

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My bosses are very in tune to all the noises that they can immediately spot a weird sound while I’m still at a point where there has to be more of a ruckus for me to realise something is wrong. I do love looking for patterns and I think I am pretty good at it, but obviously it takes time and lots of repetition, especially with so many machines making noice at the same time. There is always a sense of satisfaction when I notice a discrepency in a pattern, be it visual, auditory or something tangible, or even a smell.

Today I’m annoyed even though nothing bad really happened other than some wasted time and a couple trashed pieces, but I know in the long run this is to my benefit. Next time there is an issue like today, I can either prevent it or notice it faster so I don’t end up breaking an expensive mill when a metal piece gets loose and starts acting like a pinball inside it.

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Plot twist; I’m the devil.



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14 comments
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All legit people have a vernier caliper. Clearly you're legit. Oh, and yeah, I got one too.

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Ah, it has a name, I’ve been calling it ”that fancy measuring thing”.

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Lol, either name works, as long as you know what it does and how to use it.

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I have a couple so I must be very legit. I still prefer the analogue type. Once I got around to learning how to use it I felt like a boss.

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Two? Double legit then. It's a very handy little tool. I use mine to make ammunition, but it comes in handy for all sorts of jobs.

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I usually use mine for wood and metal working but it is so useful as I get into 3D printing. I still remember the day my father showed me how to read it. He never gave me the birds and bees talk but made sure I knew the important things in life.

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Lol, good old dad, getting his priorities right.

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My digital caliper is a cheap piece of junk, but it still does the job well enough. People who have never worked in precision manufacturing have no idea how much work there is, or how easily it can go wrong. My drafting instructor had a large aluminium block that had 95% of the original material milled away for a fancy housing, and it had to be scrapped because just one fastener hole was outside the specified tolerances. Now it's a paperweight and classroom demo about the importance of tolerances. Loose parts, though? That's scary stuff!

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That must be so nerve-racking when you are working on a more complex bigger piece, metals are so expensive these days. Luckily I don’t have that kind of pressure, but of course one has to be careful all the time because these machines are complex and expensive.

Don’t worry, nothing actually got loose on me.

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See, that's where they get you. This is actually the trickiest part of the process. They got you tricked into thinking you know your stuff, and that's when you loosen up. But it's a good moment. There'll come a time when you do know all the stuff you don't now, and genuine ennui sets in.

... I can't remember how that was encouraging.

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It can be dangerous to loosen up, have gotten my fingers burned, literally, many a times because of that 😅

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You're a girl of many talents. Lucky you didn't take your eye out as milling can be very dangerous.

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Haha I press one button, with much grace and talent. 😂 I didn’t have anything get loose completely, the opposite actually and then an issue with aligning a bar that could have broken the machine. I think the most dangerous thing I’ve done at work was when I was sanding parts on an open lathe, then I really had to make sure my hair was tied back.

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I hope your bosses are understanding, and use mistakes as an opportunity to improve, rather than discourage. That makes all the difference in jobs like this.

I'm just impressed you can operate heavy machinery without losing those magnificent nails.

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