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Mandatory overtime

A very long time ago, I worked as a machinist in a large manufacturing facility. We usually worked five, ten hour days. The lathes, drills, saws and presses ran non-stop spewing hot cutting oil into the air for us to breath, and the hot razor sharp metal chips and turnings cut our skin and burned through our clothes. It was hot in the winter, and stifling in summer. That was when we were working normal production requirements. Then we got busy.

The plant went on 'mandatory overtime' because we were working on government projects. One of my jobs was turning out drive shafts for the navy's ships. Twenty-four foot long stainless steel shafts a foot or more in diameter. My shift was changed to twelve hours, five days a week, eight on Saturday and 4-6 on Sunday. Once you started to 'cut' on the stainless steel, you didn't dare stop the machine lest you chip the surface of the metal with a restart, or break your ceramic cutting tools. The night shift took over for the day shift, and then switched back in the morning. The machines never stopped turning. We became drones, shuffling to work and shuffling to bed, as mentally exhausted as we were physically tired.

That is what 2020 is beginning to feel like. It feels like we've been at mandatory overtime now for months. But the machines can't stop turning, and tomorrow is another day and there is work to be done.

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