Daily Prompt: Express is just a word


Since amost 7 months builders have been renovating our appartment block. 7 months is a long time. Suddently in the last couple of weeks everyone is here: the electrician, the painter, the plumber. It seems to be the end spurt, the scaffolding will be removed next week and so they can no longer climb onto the roof or the various balconies. Those working above just drop the empty cans of cola from the top floors. They collect them before they go home.

When I was an export clerk in my working life, everything had to be despatched express. There seemed to be machines standing still all over the world waiting for the delivery of our tools. Some of the tools were not even manufactured, but still shapeless pieces of metal in the machine waiting to be formed. If you had a contract to fulfil, it all had to go express. Telephone calls to the factory asking when the tool series would be finished were daily routine. Somehow the job got completed, but it was all luck. I sometimes wonder how I survived, but did I?

When I began to work in the field of Swiss industry 30 years before I was retired, it was work to be proud of. Your job was to send tools according to the customer’s orders, and the customers were the king. They paid your wages indirectly and gave you work.  You followed the orders until despatch. Telephone calls were made to other countries to clarify urgent details. You had a telex machine to write to your customers, which was later replaced with a fax because it was quicker. And then computer communication arrived. Suddenly things were even faster. You were handling independently. There was no need for a boss because you knew what had to be done. I am glad I am retired, because I got a taste of the future in my last months when express became a daily word and my health began to suffer. I had to stop working, according to the doctor as I was heading for no-man’s land.

Since being retired I can look at it all from a distance and realise how things have developed something like a science fiction novel. In my parents and grandparents time you had a job and a wage. Today a job has become an automatic process and it is not certain that it will exist forever, A does one part of the job, B does the next and then it passed onto C etc. etc. In a larger company you no longer have alone responsibility. There is no interest in what you are doing. I know that my job no longer exists. The products are now delivered to a centre over the border where there are delivered direct to the end customers, and no longer via your agents. This began when I was working and now has been completed. There is no longer responsibility, just a conveyer belt of work process churning out results. Interest is what you are doing? Forget it, just do it.

Of course, it is much quicker, and a day after the order is received the tools are on the machine in another country and everyone is happy. But are the workers really happy. I was happy the day I walked out of my workplace and knew that I had got my life back. I was now the unwanted material and even that gets recycled.

Tool School

10 thoughts on “Daily Prompt: Express is just a word

  1. I felt toward the end of my career that the bosses were just adding responsibilities to the list of things we lecturers had to do for the purpose of getting us to quit. But we couldn’t quit. We were addicted to being paid, having a roof over our heads and eating regularly. I was not exactly glad to stop, but after a while, I realized what had REALLY been going on and I was very happy to be out of it. 🙂

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    • I was one of the lucky ones, they gave me an early pension. I had the so-called “burnout” syndrom,, which for most was a joke and “oh, you know, she’s one of them” but the doctor gave me leave for at least 1-2 months and I really was burnt out. I have just read the book by Dan Brown “Origin”. One of the questions in the book is “Where are we going” and that is an open question.

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  2. And this “dispersion” of work so that no one’s job has any meaning results in people who just don’t care about their work. They get no satisfaction from it, so they do whatever they need to do to collect a salary. And that’s it. The lack of a work ethic we see everywhere isn’t just the fault of the kids … it’s also the fault of the companies for which they work. The companies have no loyalty to their workers and the feeling is returned.

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    • Unfortunately it is the modern trend. The more profits can be earned, the better and when a couple of workers go kaput on the way, they can always be replaced. I had a burn out, but luckily we have a good health organisation and I was at home for a couple of months. I returned half day, and then full day and was invited for a talk with the result, the moor has done his job, the moor can go. I went with a laughing eye. They treated me fair, but I think I was one of the last that was given consieration.


  3. Jobs are disappearing at a great rate. I read yesterday that there are five people competing for every entry level job in Australia and I’ve read numerous lists of jobs that will possibly no longer exist in five or ten years. Despite this, in the eyes of the government if you can’t get a job it is your fault.
    I used to work for the state rail authority in South Australia. In the depot where I worked the different departments cooperated with each other. We all had a job to do and sometimes our jobs conflicted with each other but we made it work as best we could. I was a cleaner so we were always stuck between the engineers who needed to do servicing and the traffic branch that wanted trains out of the depot and back on track. It worked because individuals talked to each other. Then outsourcing began and of course the cleaners were the first to go. Contract cleaners get a set amount of time to perform their tasks, usually not enough time because tme is money. I wasn’t there to see what happened because I left before that happened but I can’t imagine that in a depot full of contractors one group cooperated with another because they were no longer part of the same “family” if you like. I had to take stress leave in my final year in that job so I was happy to leave when I had the opportunity to take a cash package.

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    • Life is becoming something from a science fiction novel. I followed a work process through to the end, being responsible for everything. It all changed one day and all I was doing was processsing orders and passing them on. At the end of the day I prepared documents and could leave when everything was delivered. The work became boring and personnel was re-organised. I suddenly had a supervisor old enough to be my daughter that had done a few courses which were fine in the theory but useless in the practice. I was devastated and felt like an idiot. As it was a private company we did not have so much outsourcing but staff was being reduced. I was retired 2 years earlier although they paid my wages for the two years. When I left my desk was occupied again 2 weeks later. Something felt wrong somewhere. Perhaps I had become too expensive and was suddenly over qualified. The company Is still doing well but with almost no office staff, mainly technicians. It is happening everywhere and it’s all to do with the money.

      Liked by 1 person

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