Homesteading and Survivalism

Living a simple life

Tag: heat exchanger horror stories

How life choices bite you in the butt

When I decided to write this article I was having problems picking a title. Lately I have been doing some thinking. What promoted this was a comment posted on one of my post. The comment was in reference to some of my post sounding bitter.

I want to be honest with my readers, my poor life choices have led me on the path of bitterness.

Who is to blame for my life choices? I am.

Working in the welding field

In 1986 when I graduated high school I decided to enter the workforce instead of going to college. My wifes grandfather helped get me a job at a local welding shop. I should have known something was wrong when the company did not offer and kind of benefits, such as health insurance, or retirement.

In 1987 I got a job at another welding shop, but this job had lots of overtime and some benefits.

Welding shops in southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana

What happens when an entire industry exploits its workers? Leave and find another job? Then have to wait months for their health insurance to kick in, lose whatever vacation time they have,,, and for what, to be exploited again? Well, some of the companies I worked for did not provide health insurance or vacation time, so leaving those companies would not have been a big deal.

I feel that most of the welding (fabrication) shops in southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana exploit their employees. What are the welders, fitters and helpers supposed to do about it?

From 1986 – 1999 I worked in various fabrication shops in southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana. In 2003 I went back into the welding field, in January 2004 I left the welding field again, and hopefully will never go back.

During this article I am going to re-frame from listing company names. I fear that if I list a company name, I might get sued because the company is butt hurt that a former employee is speaking out. A lot of the welding companies tell their employees, “if you do not like it, leave.” In the 1980s and 1990s I did not have a way to speak out, but now I do. I feel that I have been out of the field long enough that I can finally speak out.

Why did I wait so long before posting this article? Maybe because I have taken a long time to come to grips with my life in the fabrication shops.

This article is based on my personal experiences in welding shops from 1986 – 1999, and in 2003 – 2004.

I Used To Build Heat Exchangers

Kevin Felts, fitter and welderIf you do not know what a heat exchanger is, they are like radiators for chemical and oil refineries. “Radiator” is not a good term, because heat exchangers can heat or cool, depending on what needs to be done.

It was around August of 1987, I left a hell hole of a company where the owner exploited and ass raped the employees every chance he got, to a company that worked its employees into the ground.

I do not want to name names, as I do not want to get sued for saying stuff the company may not like.

Heat exchanger companies are there to serve the petrochemical industry. If some oil company needs an exchanger striped and retubed, the human cattle work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week until the job is finished.

I worked so many hours, there were times when I had to ask people what day it was. Time just blurred together.

I saw my kids maybe 2 or 3 hours a day,,, if that. When I was working night shift, I would wake up around 12 noon, or 1 pm, eat lunch, then have to leave at 2:30 to be at the job by 3:30pm. Good thing my kids were little and not in school. If they were in school, I would not have seen them for 4 – 6 weeks at a time.

The shift rotation was absolutely terrible. 2 weeks on days, 2 weeks on nights, 2 weeks on days,,,,. If we were working 7 / 12s, the shift rotation was suspended and you just stayed on whatever shift you were on.

The dumb-asses in management could not arrange the shift rotation on the weekends off. There were times when people had to leave at 8pm or 10 pm, and be back at work at 5am.

For some reason we could not work shifts like police do and get a 7 day break on our rotation. It was like the upper management loved to ass rape the employees every chance they got.

Terrible Benefits

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