Factoryjack Perspective

January 2021
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Looking Casual
Filed under: Factory
Posted by: site admin @ 3:00 pm

We had a guy at the factory years ago who called himself “Sam” (that wasn’t his real name). He worked so hard that he had a constant patina of sweat beads glossing his bald head. Unfortunately, he wasn’t very
good at what he did. No amount of energy or effort could compensate for the scrapped product he continually accumulated.

One day I shared a story from my past with my boss, Irene. When I was 13, I got a dishwashing job at Devon Plaza which I kept until I was 16. During that period, I watched grill-cooks come and go. Burger-flipping at a
bar is not a lucrative position and doesn’t attract premium employees.

They were usually in their mid-twenties. When rush-hour would hit on Friday and Saturday nights they would become frantic, overwhelmed with orders coming in from multiple waitresses, shouting dictates to me to prepare salads or garlic bread or baked potatoes.

Then they hired Bill: a gentle, relaxed, retired guy from Florida. On Friday and Saturday nights waitresses would burst through the door with handfuls of tickets, pointing out specifics that customers had requested,
then dashing back out to the bar to fill drink orders.

Bill would look at the stack of tickets and nod, step back and light a cigarette, then start arranging the tickets on the counter. “Well, let’s see,” he’d start, “Looks like we’ve got 3 well-done fillet mignons. You want to grab those out of the cooler for me, Mikey? Grab 2 New York strips while you’re at it.” Then he’d put his cigarette in the ashtray and say, “Looks like there’s 8 orders of garlic bread altogether. I’m gonna need some BBQ ribs ready for the broiler in about 7 minutes. Got those salads? Good. OK, 2 ribeyes, another fillet and 3 more strips and we should be good on steaks.”

It was as casual as casual could be. Under the same circumstances I’d watched aspiring young chefs become apoplectic. It was a walk in the park for Bill. All he did was organize the tasks before him, prioritize
them, and then methodically execute them. There was no need for panic or frustration. And Bill was hands-down the best cook I ever worked with. Everyone raved about his cooking.

I shared this story with Irene and told her that his example greatly influenced the way I conduct myself at work.

I wasn’t sucking-up to Irene. I was a “Lead Man:” entrusted with assigning jobs and machines in my department, on my shift. Frequent dialog to coordinate with my manager was part of the job. A week later, Irene asked me to take on the additional responsibility of being Lead Man over another department, concurrent with my previous responsibilities. She specifically elucidated that my story about Bill impressed upon her that I could handle it.

Irene moved on up the ladder and was replaced by another manager, Phil. He visited me one day and said, “Mike, I notice you spend a lot of time out of your area. What’s up with that?” I explained to him that my shift began at 3PM, and that he went home at 5PM. Typically, I was going to set up at least 3 machines during my shift. So the first thing I did was analyze the work scheduled for my area. The next thing was leave the department to gather the blueprints, fixtures and tooling for the first 3 jobs. All those items were located outside my area. It’s called “kitting.” About the time he was going home for the day, I’d assembled all the accouterments I’d need to work for the rest of my shift.

“But,” he rebounded, “When you are in your area, you don’t appear to be very busy.”

“You mean like Sam?” I replied. “I can be like Sam if you want me to. I know how to look real busy.”

“No. I don’t want you to be like Sam. That’s not what I meant.”

“Look, I found out when I started this job that when I hurry I make mistakes. Haste makes waste. My job requires thinking. Sometimes, when I don’t look busy, I’m doing math, or planning. But I’m doing my job.”

Phil walked away frustrated.

I’ve been doing the same job – programming, setting-up, operating and troubleshooting CNC metal-cutting machinery – for over 20 years. Managers come and go. CEOs come and go. Ownership changes hands. The nature of my job doesn’t change.

Irene was the only manager I ever had who understood that looking busy didn’t equate to quality productivity. Every time I get a new manager, I can see it in his eyes: he’ll stop in the aisle, scrutinize my activity, and think, “That guy doesn’t look like he’s doing anything. I better go over there and instill some motivation in him.”

About the time I’ve got him trained, he’s replaced with fresh meat for me to spar with over and over again. It’s all part of the job.

It’s a pattern I’ve recognized that has manifold ramifications. The better a man becomes at his job, the more efficient he becomes. The more efficient he becomes, the more casual he appears to be. He does his job with ease. Salaried individuals with college degrees cast one glance at him and surmise, “That guy’s job is too easy. He’s not earning his pay. I’d better go over there and mess with him.” No, you doof. It’s not easy. He’s mastered it. Your meddling de-motivates him causing a down-shift in performance.

(That’s actually why it’s important to recruit supervisors from the plant floor rather than fresh blood from Krannert School of Management. In myriad instances, experience trumps protocol.)

Then they hire new employees. Bob’s going to retire in 3 weeks. They’ve watched Bob work and concluded that his job is easy, so they attach a new-hire to him and say, “Bob, meet Jerry. Show him what you do.” Go get yourself a cup of coffee, Jerry: Bob’s got 3 weeks to pump 3 decades worth of knowledge and experience into your head, and he’s so close to retirement, he couldn’t give a rat’s-tail less how much of it you retain.

It’s a cycle that perpetuates itself to the degradation of professionalism. Looking busy doesn’t equal being busy, which doesn’t equal quality or productivity. Outcome trumps aesthetics, profit-wise.

Someday, I’ll meet another Irene.

Mike can be reached at reply@vanouse.com.

Originally published on JConline.com, December 16, 2014

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Provoking Peace
Filed under: General
Posted by: site admin @ 2:22 pm

by Mike VanOuse, reply@vanouse.com

On Friday, 29 May, 2015, the “Freedom of Speech Rally, Round
2,” event was held in Phoenix, AZ, and the counter-protest that accompanied it.  The event included a “Draw the Prophet Mohammed” contest in response to the one held in Garland, TX, earlier in the month. 

News images of counter protestors included signs brandished phrases like, “Love thy Neighbor” and “Provoke Peace.” 

One has to wonder what exactly they meant by, “Provoke Peace.”  The sign-bearers appear to be of the ilk whose spectrum of intellect reaches to the breadth of, “Mean People Suck,” and, “Can’t We All Just Get Along?” 
They were imploring, “Don’t Provoke Violence.” 

“WWJD?”  A cursory overview of the New Testament will answer that. 
The Prince of Peace came here to establish peace between God and man, by dying for the sins of the entire World, satisfying the requirement of the Law.  How did He accomplish that? 

Everywhere He went, and everything He did intentionally provoked the religious extremists of His day to anger.  When they would castigate Him for violating the Sabbath, He didn’t cower and apologize.  He ripped right back by pointing out their hypocrisy, snubbing their presumed authority, causing the antipathy to escalate.

That was His goal: to make them so irate that it would drive them to kill Him.  Mission accomplished.  That’s not the answer to “WWJD?”  It’s the answer to, “What Did Jesus Do?”  That’s how He established peace.

Peace is not merely the absence of violence.  Living under the threat of violence for being politically incorrect is not peace.  It’s oppression.  Anyone who’s ever been bullied knows that it’s not a peaceful existence. The absence of peace continues as long as the bullying is allowed. Sometimes, in order to achieve peace, the tension has to be increased until it reaches a snapping point.  The peace settles afterward.

Jesus said, “Blessed are the Peacemakers,” and so they are. But the title “Peacemaker” implies that someone has to grow the nards to step into a situation where there is no peace, and instill it - - by force if necessary.  That’s why Colonel Colt found it a fitting moniker for his famed six-gun which tamed the Wild West.  

After establishing that the purpose of government is to secure the God-given rights of individuals, the Declaration of Independence goes on to say:

“That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it…  [A]ll experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.  But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.“ 

Followers of Islam advocate official, universal application of Sharia Law as an expression of their freedom of religion.  But it is not an expression of religion.  It is a “form of government” that is incompatible with the U.S. Constitution.  Islam translates to “submit,” and the object is to get the entire world to submit to Sharia Law.  Or in other words, to, “reduce [us] to absolute Despotism.”

Pamela Geller pointed out after various Islamic voices called for her being tried by a Sharia Court, that she’s not a Muslim. She’s a Jew. The Catholics haven’t called for excommunicating her for her divorce, because she’s not Catholic. Their canonical law doesn’t apply to her. And the Methodists don’t get upset that she doesn’t pay tithes to them, because she’s not a Methodist.   There hasn’t been any outcry against her from the Buddhist or Mormon Temples either. 

But the Muslims want to hold her accountable to their Law because they insist that Sharia Law applies to everyone.  That’s not religion. That’s a tyrannical form of government, and our founding document declares that it is not only our right, but our duty to throw it off.  Ms Geller rightly asserts that when we acquiesce to their demands, we impose Sharia Law upon ourselves voluntarily. 

Those who are, “disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable,” would cower in fear of extremists rather than muster the spine to defy.  How does that resonate with, “Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave?”  Imposition of Sharia — voluntarily or otherwise — is insufferable evil.

There is no “peace” in “appease.”

Returning to authentic religion, after Peter professed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God, Jesus said, “[U]pon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”  Many perceive that statement as meaning that the church will survive the attacks of hell. But “gates” don’t attack.  They’re a defensive edifice, not an offensive maneuver.  Converse to the perception, Jesus was saying that the gates of hell could not withstand the assault of the church. 

So Pamela Geller held her “Draw Muhammad” cartoon contest in Garland, Texas, and no one would have heard about it were it not for two Muslims who drove down to Texas from Phoenix to execute Sharia dictates on the
infidels by shooting ‘em up. It didn’t work out as planned.

Last Friday’s event in Phoenix, was staged immediately outside the Mosque where the Jihadi assailants received their indoctrination.  Or in other words, the event organizer, Jon Ritzheimer, took the fight straight to the gates of hell.  I’m not saying Mr. Ritzheimer is a man of God –  I know nothing of the man.
 I’m saying his tack was righteous. 

Watching the events as they unfolded in Phoenix, it was evident that the event attracted some loons.  There were people wearing Nazi insignia or brandishing vulgar statements.   Scavengers are to be expected when the smell
of blood is in the air.  But the underlying purpose of the event was exactly what its opponents called for:  to provoke peace.

Stop with the threats, stop with the intimidation, come out into the open and let’s get it over with so that peace can resume.  Break the tension and peace ensues. 

News interviews with local residents during the Phoenix event highlighted how fear was the predominant response.  Well duh:  You live within two blocks of a mosque that has produced terrorists.  You’re alright with that.  But you suddenly get frightened when freedom-loving Americans congregate to stand up to them?  Someone’s thinking is askew. 

If you’re not American enough to resist wannabe despots, “Be afraid — be very afraid.”

On April 6, 2015, American Thinker published an excellent article titled, “PsyWar: Militant Islam’s Worst Enemy,” By William A. Levinson, which illustrated what “’militant Islam’ fears most: military-grade psychological warfare,” in the form of persuasive anti-Islamic artwork. 

We are currently engaged in a war on terror.  And the purveyors of terror are terrified by innocuous cartoons.  What pathetic cowards. 

Did I mention that I’m a Cartoonist?

First published at AmericanThinker.com, May 31, 2015

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Romeo oh Romeo
Filed under: General, Politics
Posted by: site admin @ 9:31 pm

Romeo loved Juliette.  Juliette loved Romeo.  But alas, Romeo was a Montague and Juliette
was a Capulet, and those two clans were embroiled in a blood feud in Renaissance
Verona.  So to circumvent the customs and
rules of the day, they approached Friar Lawrence, who agreed to officiate their
wedding in secret.  

It’s a classic story because the tension created in the
conflict where star-crossed lovers are willing to hazard any risk for the sake
of love and romance has universal appeal to all ages and cultures.  For the romantic, the enchantment doesn’t
fade with age. 

Many couples fall in love, marry and retire together.  Often they’ll emigrate from the hostile climes
of the North and settle into retirement communities in sunny Florida.  But they don’t live happily ever after:  one of them succumbs to the ravages of nature
and leaves this mortal plane, leaving their spouse alone, once again, in a
community of others of a similar circumstance. 

No longer having jobs to occupy half of their waking hours,
and all the children having grown and flown away, the new widows and widowers
have abundant idle time and spend it socializing, finding solace in the
companionship of others, and camaraderie in the fellowship of sufferings. 

It is not uncommon in that community of shared grief and
loneliness that a widow and widower will meet, share their hearts, and fall in
love with zeal and passion equal to that of Romeo and Juliette.  Yet while they don’t face the dilemma of
springing from rival clans, they face a new challenge: the government.

They’re sole source of income is their retirement benefits,
calculated according to their previous marriage.  If the woman was a homemaker, those benefits
are spousal.  But if they remarry, they
lose those benefits.  It is against their
traditional upbringing to shack-up, but marrying would be financially untenable. 

So they seek out a Friar Lawrence:  a member of the clergy who is willing to wed
them in secret, in a union ordained of God but hidden from a malevolent

Twenty years ago I attended a Bible study in a traditional,
conservative church, where an elderly student raised the above scenario and
asked the pastor if he would be willing to perform a secret ceremony under
those circumstances.  Without hesitation
he answered, “Absolutely not.  When a
pastor performs a marriage, it is in conjunction with the civil authorities and
must comply with their guidelines.”

I considered that an uncharacteristically heartless answer
and challenged it. Scripture says that when a man and woman marry, they are no
longer twain, but one flesh.  Their retirement benefits are hers at his
passing because our culture recognizes that both parties played equally
significant roles in the production of a family, the foundation of society.  The benefits are her property.  To deprive her of them is theft, which, scripture condemns.  When government violates God’s law, civil disobedience is
.  The Government – man – is
putting asunder, that which God hath joined together.

But he remained resolute. 
Before he tells the groom that he may kiss the bride, he says, “By the
powers vested in me by the Church and the State of Indiana, I now pronounce you
man and wife.”  Those powers are only
vested in him so long as he abides by their precepts. 

On the drive home I couldn’t help wondering if that was a
ploy.  A Bible study is a public setting
and it would be foolish to proclaim publicly your willingness to violate the

Then I wondered how firmly he would stick to those guns when
the government tells him that he is obligated to perform same sex
marriages.  At the time (and currently)
open acceptance of homosexuality in the church was a controversial topic, and
he boldly proclaimed from the pulpit that if the denomination were to endorse
it, the local church would secede from the denomination because it was
impossible to reconcile that position with scripture.

At the time, it would have been a ludicrous
proposition.  Not today.  If you’re a member of the clergy, you might
want to start thinking about how you’re going to respond today.  Surely you’re aware that bakers, florists and
photographers have already endured the onslaught.

Given the recent developments where municipalities and
schools are changing their standards based on what gender a person considers
themselves to be at any given moment; 
the fanfare and presidential applause regarding the recent
“Trans-Jenner” circus, make it apparent that those who seek to devastate the
underpinnings of Western civilization intend to nullify arguments against same
sex marriage by merely normalizing declaring yourself to be another sex.

Problem solved.

Same sex marriage is the zeitgeist.  “Romeo and Juliette” is a classic because it
has universal and timeless appeal.  Had
it been titled, “Romeo and Walter,” we would never have learned the name

Pastor, what are you going to do when the government orders
you to bless Romeo and Walter’s union?

Mike VanOuse is an Indiana Factoryjack, and can be reached
at reply@vanouse.com.

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False and True
Filed under: Factory
Posted by: site admin @ 8:08 pm

False and True

A Manager told VanOuse, “There’s a Company policy
prohibiting e-cigarette use.”
VanOuse said, “No there isn’t.”

As it turned out, what the Manager said was false, and what
VanOuse said was true.

The Company said, “We don’t need one because they violate
the City’s Smoking Ordnance.”
VanOuse said, “No they don’t.”

Again, Company statement = false, VanOuse statement = true.

The Company said, “The Ordnance language, ‘any other smoking
equipment,’ includes e-cigs.” False.
VanOuse said, “No, it doesn’t.” True.

(VanOuse asked the City Clerk, who referred him to the City
Attorney, who responded in writing that e-cigs don’t violate the Ordnance,
which VanOuse promptly forwarded to the Company and Union.)

The Company claimed that the Union agrees with them that the
language in the CBA allowing e-cig use means that they’re prohibited. The Union
said, “False.” Were they actually in agreement, the Union would have said,

A Manager then told VanOuse, “There’s a Company policy
prohibiting e-cig use.” False.
VanOuse said, “No there isn’t.” True.

Full Circle.

After punishing VanOuse and threatening him with punishment
several times for being correct in every instance, an Executive said, “Company
policy is that use of e-cigs is smoking.”

That position would violate the language in the CBA allowing
their use. Were it true, the language itself violates Local and State Ordnance.
It cannot be True.

When you refuse to publish your policies, you can say
whatever you feel, unencumbered by Truth. What the Company did publish was its “Core
Values,” including, “Integrity:”

this core value means that everything we build, we build on trust.
We inspire confidence by honestly saying what we mean and clearly doing what we
We foster a mindset of reliability and respect.
We know that reputation is built by following the highest ethical standards…

Is this True or False? How does one
build trust when everything they say proves False? How does one inspire
confidence by refusing to publish their policy? Does punishing those who
maintain their Integrity foster reliability and respect? What reputation do
these “ethical standards” produce?

This is not about e-cigs. It’s
about Integrity. True.

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