So this is how it goes, then

June 27th, 2010

As you all know, Acme announced the closure of my favorite factory. (It’s the one I work at.) A vignette:

There is one particular kind of tool that we don’t sell a lot of, and we haven’t sold any of for almost a year. This is because one of our supplier went out of business without telling us and only when we got around to placing an order for the parts we did we discover the situation. So we had to locate where the part dies were, locate a supplier willing to make the part, and work with the new vendor through several rounds of very expensive die repairs for a product line that doesn’t move much.

Oh, sorry. That was the other product line. For the items in this story, that same supplier was the supplier to our supplier. And we didn’t realize that when we did that whole deal described above. So we have been doing the same thing from an even later start, and we are getting close to a year since some of the orders were booked. It should have been more like four weeks for late delivery, maybe eight weeks to cause a scandal. Sliding the last few weeks toward the 52 mark? I honestly don’t know why customers are still waiting.

Very shortly after the closure of the factory was announced, it came out internally that this product line was to be discontinued. The closure announcement was in March. Not till this month did we actually admit this discontinuance to the customers. But, we will still build all the orders that are on the books now.

One customer out there has actually decided to return the tools they do have. This is great; we can ship them to customers who have been waiting for a year. Only, I was told that the testing equipment to re-certify these tools–or to certify any final new builds–has already been torn out of the plant.

So I called somebody and left a message asking where else we could send these tools to get them tested. And he came to see me personally and assured me that he with his own eyes verified that the tester was still there and that nothing would be removed that was used and I should stop listening to these rumors that the tester was gone.

Therefore on Friday I asked the fellow who actually builds these tools if he would test the returns for me. And he told me the tester was gone. So, having never built these tools nor tested them nor tested any tool nor having any idea what the tester would look like, I asked him to show me the missing tester.

It was kind of a stupid thing to ask, I know, but it was the first step toward my goal of having him and the engineer who assured me the tester was still there both present at the location of this mythological tester. What would it be? Would the assembler be cynically repeating something he was told on hearsay? Would he have been using the “wrong” tester for years? Would the equipment be present, but moved? Would it be actually gone?

It was gone. The engineer did not realize that their were two tester for two slightly different varieties, and the tester he had saved was not the correct tester for the particular models in question.

To stage this little drama of reconciliation I walked away from my desk to the other end of the plant immediately after being told by my manager’s manager that something else was my utmost critical top priority, and I even like him and respect his judgment. But he also told me to get those returned tools shipped by the end of the month; and we are getting to the point where nobody actually knows how many things are going wrong, and one has to make up one’s own mind about which ones are most worth fixing.