Odd Jobs

As a contrast to Heather’s article on company history, I thought it a good idea to discuss those little odd jobs one does to get through school, or life for that matter. Over the years, I’ve had an eclectic assortment of odd jobs ranging from organist to legal assistant (wills and estates), to your classic hourly retail apron-job. I am doubly lucky since now I work in the computer lab at school (after a stint at Starbucks here in Denver, off course).

But a second odd job came up which I could not refuse, especially between semesters. It is working at a new factory warehouse with an absolutely gargantuan automated conveyor belt system. The design team is currently testing its performance, therefore enter me: one of a team of four which moves boxes from the end to the beginning again for a 12-hour workday.

If you thought designing a building is hard, try a box-moving conveyor! The amount of mechanical equipment, electrical connections, and custom-designed computer software is enough to transform you into a cyborg hellbent on efficiency and flow rate optimization. They don’t even call them computers there: they are HMI’s (human/machine interfaces).

My day consists of restacking and organizing boxes according to automatically printed labels by some guy in Michigan. I’m not joking, either! These labels used to be hieroglyphics to me. But now my vision has adapted to where I see like the Terminator–my mind figuring out automatically the appropriate location, status, and job trip, all with a red hue.

It is a bit odd to be in school one day, discussing acute aesthetic implications of an architectural design whilst the next interacting with workers who may or may not have a high school diploma. That is not to say they are not intelligent–on the contrary, many of them are very smart and very good at what they do. At times it makes me wonder the value of education. Are they smarter than me because they don’t have an exorbitant amount of student loan debt? In any case, it is a good lesson in how to work with a variety of people in a variety of situations, which seems to be key when working on any design project team. I have found that fitting into a workplace culture can also mean staying off the list when layoff time comes around, which is also a good thing.

It turns out these little side jobs are important. They provide a source of income while keeping one humble in return. So, until I am a licensed architect (if that ever happens), at least I can make a kickass triple venti peppermint mocha while drafting a power of attorney for you. Oh yeah, that’ll be $225, thank you very much.

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