A day in the life

It was a long, tiring day yesterday. I went to the PPMA show at the NEC, which is the Packaging machinery manufacturers Association… sounds enthralling I know, but I actually did find it interesting and was on the lookout for some new mixing vessels, along with some packing machines, plus I was on a mission to find out what’s new in the world of extrusion technology! Even though it’s 2012, a lot of these guys haven’t yet got used to the fact that there are women in the engineering world, so I find that even though I address questions directly to them about the machine performance/spec, etc, they direct their answers back at my male assistant. And I’m stood there wondering if they actually want the business or not!

Anyway, that aside, it was a tiring day, mostly because of the 3.5 hour drive down and the 4.5 hour drive back again due to an accident closing the M6.
So I arrived at work this morning at 7.30 still tired after yesterday. Straight into business as usual – I had two contractors on site this morning and both arrived together – sod’s law! One came to investigate a problem with our moisture analysis equipment, which has been throwing up an error message that isn’t in the manual, so I delegated this guy and talked to the other one, an electrical engineer here to install a new plc in part of the plant, along with an ethernet connection to my office (so I can see what’s going on!)

After that, I had the usual 30 or so emails to sort out after a day away, then I had to sit down with another of my staff as she’s away for the next 2 weeks and we needed to cover stuff that will come up while she’s away. Just finished that and another member of the team came in with a quality problem that happened yesterday; quite a serious one as the product involved is a new one due for launch soon and I expect it to be looking perfect for a launch!  I find out some details and go down to the manufacturing plant to see what happened.

As some of you know, my relationship with the Team leader down there has been a little fragile at times (understatement). When I was quite low, his attitude turned into almost bullying and I just didn’t have the strength to fight back.

So I go down this morning and ask what went wrong and his immediate reaction is to snap at me and bang his fist on his desk. Now a sensible person might have handled it differently from me, but when was I sensible? He went on to shout that my staff had passed the fucking colour in the first place, so it was my fault.  I shout back.My staff passed the COLOUR yes, but that is not the issue – it’s the finish of the damned item that’s wrong and his staff are responsible for that – I have provided standards that they are supposed to use at all times.
He reacts – calling me a f**ing idiot, his staff are laughing at me, he says. I’m a waste of space and the products will be used anyway, because what he says goes and I’m too weak to do anything about it! He is 100 times tougher than me, he yells, smashing his fist down once more to prove it…

This time I bite back. Don’t you f**ing swear at me like that. And do not bang the desk.  This product is rejected and if you want to see tough, watch this space and I will show you tough. with that I swan out of his office and immediately send all the faulty product back to him.
And this time I will NOT back down. I told the MD I am making a stand and that this time there is no going back from it. So we will see what happens on Monday…

But the good thing is that I will no longer be bullied by that man. From now on, he will see what tough looks like.

And by the time all that was over, it was nearly time to go home. Luckily we finish at 12 on Fridays, so a nice relaxing walk with Archie was in order for the afternoon.
My conflict has not upset me personally, but I am angry that my staff will now find it hard to do their jobs properly because of his territorial attitude. He’s like an un-neutered dog peeing up the walls of his department to prevent any of us entering his territory!

I feel quite good about standing up to him though. The only thing that would have made me feel even better would have been to come home, tell someone I’d had a bit of a bad day and for them to give me a big hug and say “it’s OK now, you are home with me!”
Instead, I got nagged about going shopping and spending more money, plus 20 questions about whether I was bad tempered or depressed….

Ah well, nothing’s ever perfect! The afternoon was good with Archie and now I am enjoying a nice glass or two of Cote du Rhone and listening to some lovely music.

Peace to you my friends xx


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