2010 Sept 20 Monday. Today I had a few words with one of the guys I work with. We work from a large wagon, with 9 people on each side sorting millet, and then handing it off to a tier. My station is the second from the back of the wagon, and this guy was 3 from the front. Today, this guy takes it upon himself to stop sorting and picking up a small pitchfork, he came down to back end of the wagon and began moving the millet down to the front of the wagon. There was nothing wrong with that, except that there was still about five minutes of sorting left before we had to begin clean up. The reason for starting at the back of the wagon (previous procedure) was so that the person could begin picking up the waste straw that the tier was cutting off the millet and the cutting station happened to be beside the back of the wagon. But instead of picking up the waste straw cuttings, he was using the pitchfork to pick up the garbage under the feet of the people that were still sorting, disturbing them (and me) and also doing something that was really useless as we were still dumping garbage on the floor, and also more garbage would be coming from the other wagon behind ours, that also needed to be loaded on our wagon. Cleaning the floor, as he was doing, was the last thing we needed to do before moving the wagon out, and allowing the other wagon to move up, and a new wagon to be brought in.
When he came to me, I asked him why he didn’t start picking up the garbage from the cutting pile but he didn’t reply. I asked again and he said that it was because it could be easily picked up with a fork, and that it was better to pick up the straw cuttings by hand. A few seconds later, I saw him make a pile near the front of the wagon, and then saw him putting the fork against the wall. I thought he might be going over to the cutting pile, but instead, I saw him reaching for his jacket and pulling out his cigarettes and lighter. I went over to him and asked him where in the fuck he gets off having a cigarette break, when the rest of us are still working, and having to clean up? He replied that he was going for a piss. I said fine, but I know the shit you’re trying to pull and it’s not going to work anymore.
I never did get to challenge him as we never got to finish the next wagon load before quitting time. Although the woman at the end of the wagon, didn’t like what this guy was doing or the way he was doing it as he almost stuck her with the pitchfork, I could also feel that she didn’t like the way I talked to him either, but she didn’t say anything to him or to me.
2010 Sept 22 Tuesday was a rain day, so we didn’t work. Wednesday started off as usual, but when it came time to clean up, he again tried his little trick, but before he could start, I called him on his shit. I spoke up, telling him (and everyone around me) what he was doing and that the only reason he was doing this was so that he could go out for a cigarette, leaving the others to cover for him. He didn’t say anything, but walk toward the other wagon, away from me. A few moments later I say him back at his station.
Later there was a marked change, not only in him, but in many at the wagon I was working on. We all finished together and then cleaned up together, working in a way that left smiles on the faces. The woman on the end also commented that she was happy in not having to be rushed and hassled to move down, and to have millet straw being thrown on or around her.
The clean up not only affected the people at our wagon, but also the wagon behind us, as we would also pick up their garbage, as their wagon would still have millet on it that needed to be sorted. After the clean up, that wagon would then be moved forward and a new wagon load brought in. This was the first season where they were sorting the millet this way and in the past couple of days, I developed a method to clean up the floor, (for both wagons) that saved a lot of time and energy, and made for a cleaner floor space. The next day, the guy was re-stationed to the other wagon.