Migratory Teamwork

November 19, 2010 at 6:17 AM | Posted in Economics, Germany, Growing up, Personal Development | 4 Comments
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One summer day when I was working making file cabinets in a factory in Hicksville, I was asked by the foreman to place some parts very high, at the top of some rickety shelving. I looked up at the height and I looked down. I looked up again and I looked down. I didn’t know what to do as I was afraid of heights. Falling was the only thing I could see. Just then, another worker, a Puerto Rican, grabbed the parts from me and scampered up the ladder and then laughed and gave me a thumbs-up.


Several years later, I was working in a kunstof fabrik, fibreglass parts factory in Dusslingen Germany. My job was to make a box by, in effect, wall-papering sheets of fibreglass, wet with glue, to the inside of a box. I performed a comedy routine but I wasn’t laughing: as I rolled on one side, the other would fall down. After more of this, I threw down my roller and said “I quit.” The German foreman ran over and said not to worry and gave the box to the Turkish woman next to me to complete. I tried to take the box back, not wanting to saddle the woman with such an impossible task. She waved me off and with a small, shy, looking down smile let me know that she was happy to help.

She finished the box in 3 minutes.


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  1. Essential Student Learnings Advanced Technologies |…

    I found your entry interesting thus I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

  2. This reminded me of one of my first jobs, after the Navy, in production control at Lear Siegler. It was the best and worst of management and labor.
    I’ll never forget an entire production line being held up for the lack of some tiny parts you could hold in your palm because we had to find a “lugger” to move them from inventory. The Union would not allow any management personnel to move parts.
    Also, I had the pleasure of working with a truly remarkable guy by the name of Roy Roberts. He was an expeditor (I think an obscure term today). Roy eventually went to General Motors and later became the first black person to head up the Chevrolet Division. Quite an accomplishment.

    • Larry, these are great stories. Thanks a lot for taking the time to write!

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