Thursday, July 05, 2007

Iron Maiden 'Maiden Japan'

I worked for Capitol Records from 1993 through 1999. They had a distribution center near the airport here in Greensboro. It was a huge place that could’ve easily concealed 3 football fields within its brick walls. There were even plans to put in a CD pressing plant. Mainly, our distribution center sent out CD‘s, cassettes (we called them 4-tracks), and a few LP’s all over the world.

At the time… The job was a bit oppressive because I had no social life. They wanted your ass all the time. You only got 2 hours notice when you had to work 1 or 2 hours overtime for the day… And only one day’s notice if you had to work on a Saturday. I had no social life whatsoever. I stopped going to clubs and seeing the local bands… I worked all the time. Sure I loved the paychecks, but I kinda dropped out of the night scene.

Every day was a challenge with management. They had little or no feelings about the workers. So it was my job to irritate them as much as possible. I found the rules and restrictions that could be bent and start twisting those jokers my way. And I was one of the best at it!

Productivity was always being checked. They kept track of everything you put away as well as the stuff you picked. When picking bulk (CD’s/4-tracks by the case), you had to pick 100 cases per hour. When putting away bulk orders, you had to put away 180 cases per hour.

Since I didn’t like the long hours and utter contempt exhibited by our supervisors… I found ways around working hard.

We used RF devices to scan a label on the product being moved from receiving to a warehouse location for storage. When putting it away in the location, you scanned a 2 character “check digit”. Folks would sign onto the RF with their name and password. And we usually left it on until the battery died. Even if when we took our half hour lunch… We would leave that RF on.

That got me to thinking… Perhaps the computer kept track of the time it takes to scan things… From the time you scanned the bar coded label until you scanned the put away “check digit” was being measured. And whatever time you were logged onto the RF between put aways, that figured out your average per hour productivity.

So I started chatting my theories out with my work buddy, Mike McKinney.

Mike was a lot like me. We liked causing a bit of trouble and we liked working smarter… And that meant less. If we could “stick it to the man” during the process… Why that just made it even sweeter.

We put my theory to the test. We would log onto the RF with our user name and password. Then we would scan the label and head to the location in the warehouse to scan the “check digit” for the put away. Then we would back completely out of the RF. It took 2 minutes, tops. If we were to leave it on… The total time to scan and put away would normally take 10 to 15 minutes depending on how many cases you had.

The next time the productivity sheets were posted… McKinney and I were the top dogs. Normally, we would be about midway or at the bottom. And usually, the highest productivity numbers were generally around 300 to 500 cases per hour. We killed it! We were doing numbers right around and over 1,000! Our supervisors couldn’t believe it! All they ever saw us do was waste time. Hell, one supervisor even said to us, “I don’t know how you guys get so much done. All I ever see you do is walk around and talk with your coworkers.”

And we also did the same with picking the bulk… We usually averaged around 500 to 600 cases per hour when picking. Again, the minimum was 100 per hour.

They could never say anything to us when it come to making our production. We would walk around and socialize… When they said something, Mike and I would usually say something about looking at our numbers. We were pretty cocky about it and we never shared our secret with our coworkers. We were on easy street and that’s the way we wanted to keep it.

Hell… Mike would find a quiet spot in the warehouse on slow days to take a nap. Since I wasn’t a napper… I would watch his back and make sure no one caught wise. Even on days where he would knock off for an hour or so… He still made about 600 to 700 cases per hour production.

Oh… There are so many stories to tell about my days there… I’ll share another tomorrow if I post an entry.


  1. Anonymous3:19 AM

    I am always for any tales of being slack yet giving the appearance of working hard, but that was the best such tale yet. It may have made you my Slack Working hero. The part that pushed the story from "That's a good one" to "best slack-work story ever" is the part about how you guys made use of the numbers to prove that you were working hard when, in reality, you were doing nothing at all. Five stars!

  2. Mrs. Meadows can back up my story.