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Richard! | by Gareth.D.Jones
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A rare shot of our storeman, Richard, actually working. After making it through the Index Room purgatory with most of his sanity intact, he requested a move out to the stores.


Advantages of the job included:

* Office: The layout of the Southam lab meant he was the only guy other than the admin general manager to get his own office. Even the lab manager, Rob, had to share a room with two to three other people.

* Autonomy: Being out of the way of the general lab, and the admin office, you can spend days in the stores without getting badgered for anything outside of signing for deliveries.

* Forklift licence: The company paid for his training on a forklift licence, which is bound to come in handy at some point.

* Looks good on a CV: While "Laboratory Technician" isn't too shabby a title, I think Richard's unofficial but uncontroversial "Warehouse Manager" looks better, even if he never actually had anyone to boss around full-time


Bad Points:

* Solitude: It's nice for a while, but it does get a bit lonely in the stores, particularly during the quiet periods when there's little work to be done.

* Heavy work: Speaking of work, while there were frequent quiet periods, most of the samples which did come in were Bulks. Think of one of those larger carrier bags, filled with rocks. And no handles to grip. Now think about lifting those for four to six hours a day, to shelves above your head (a stepladder is provided, but from experience it's REALLY unsafe to climb those things with something that heavy in your hands.) Yeah, despite most of the lab staff bitching about how Rich got to sit around, I'm not sure most of them would swap their testing for that.

* Working outside: Yes, it's really pleasant in Summer, with blue skies and a nice breeze. But we're in the UK. It rains about 120 days a year, or one in three. Read the above section on heavy work. Now add to that that you're doing it in the rain.

* No air conditioning, no windows: So, you've got a nice quiet day, and it's midsummer. But no samples means no excuse to go outside. Which means staying in the warehouse, with no air conditioning, no windows, and one door to the outside. We keep a thermometer in there to make sure the samples stay within the temperature range allowed by the British Standards. In June, the average daily temperature in there was 34C (94F).


I know all this because I worked on triaxial tests for my first year there. There typically weren't enough of those to fill the entire week, so I got assigned as temporary stores staff. Fun times.


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Taken on July 12, 2010