Flash went on vacation and I got the chance to show what I had learned from days sweating on the “ironwork crew.” I had learned all there was to learn about attaching equipment frames to one another, attaching grounding, putting on cable rack, and bolting frames to the floor. That was my whole job at this point — putting things together but, for what purpose?
These equipment frames I was so diligently, and repetitively, putting together were being placed inside concrete swimming pools. Well, not really pools, more like tubs, but that kind of gives an idea of what they were. They containers (really) were the concrete bottom halves of controlled environment vaults or, CEV’s for short. CEV came in two pieces with the bottom half being delivered by flatbed truck trailersto our warehouse to have equipment installed. Then they would ship out again on flatbeds to their final resting site and lowered into the ground. Their top half, which had all the environmental controls, would be lowered onto them, the two halves would be sealed together, and then the whole thing would be buried with only the entrance left above ground. These hatches are fairly nondescript and most people never notice them.
So my job for the first four months of my career was to put the equipment frames together, as prefabricated rows or “line ups”, that would then be lifted by forklift up and over the side of the CEV bottom and set down. Why a forklift? Well, for one thing, the line ups could be anywhere from six to many frames tied together. The sides of the CEV bottom were roughly five feet high (equipment frames are seven foot tall) and the entire bottom itself was resting on wooden blocks about sixteen inches high. This made the top of the side of a CEV about six and a half feet from the floor. We had special metal ladders that hooked onto the lip of the CEV that we would have to put in place in order to even get into the thing. There was another ladder on the inside of the vault that would be part of the ladder embedded in the top half that allowed access to the CEV.
So anyway, imagine a concrete container with sides six inches thick, the bottom a foot thick and can be anywhere from six to sixteen feet wide and sixteen to twenty-four feet long. It was a concrete swimming pool. And how they got into the warehouse and put on those wooden blocks is another story.
So my job with Flash was to have the equipment frames lowered into the CEV and then we make sure they were straight and level and then bolt them to the floor. We would add cable rack (ladder rack, whatever you want to call it) to the tops of the lineups and cross-aisle pieces where needed to tie the lineups together. That was it.
That was my whole job.
And leave it to Flash, we did one CEV a week. Just one. Because slow is job security. So we did it slow. At least, until Flash went on vacation.
Four months, four long months, after I hired on Flash announced he was taking a week’s vacation. He told Lush, he told Zoom, he told our supervisor, he told everybody. And he told me. He told me not to work too hard.
The Monday Flash started his vacation we had five CEV come in. By Flash-time that would have been five weeks worth of work. But. But our supervisor, a hard but fair man, came to me and said he needed them done quickly.
Hmm, what does this mean in the bigger scheme of things?
I knew how Flash liked to work. I also knew Lush and Zoom by this point and how they preferred to work. I also knew I didn’t like any of it. So I pushed. I pushed them, gently, but persistently and worked at what I thought would have been a pace for a normal human being. After four months of simple nut and bolt work, I knew what I was doing. It really was the simplest job at Morrow. A trained monkey could have done it.
So at the end of the week, five CEV’s had their line ups installed and were ready for the next phase. I had completed one vault a day. Not just the one Flash expected me to do while he was gone but all of them. I actually felt good about it. I felt a touch of pride.
That Friday afternoon, my supervisor told me to be in his office Monday morning.