Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Israel – CCLXV. A Permanent Job (3 of 12)

My next department was Records, and I would stay there until I left for Canada.  As the name indicates, this department was responsible for keeping track of the inventory of the whole enterprise.  Records had many employees who dutifully recorded all that allowed IAI to function; examples:  spare parts, nails, an infinite variety of screws, tools, equipment, chemical compounds, and supplies.

Each person was responsible for a box or drawer filled with cards (referred to as Tally Cards).  Each card recorded 1 item only.  Assuming you recorded chemicals compounds, you had one card for sodium carbonate (Na2CO3), another for hydrochloric acid, and so on.  If the chemical store received 100 kg of Na2CO3, the Record person entered that quantity on his card; if 20 kg were left from before he added the whole thing for a new total of 120 kg.  Addition was based on a receiving report.  Subtraction was based on a withdrawal slip.  Following the above example, if that person receives a withdrawal slip for 10 kg of Na2CO3, he subtracted it from his total which now leaves him with 110 kg of Na2CO3.

All documents were then sent to filing.  Filling employed part-time students who earned some extra money by filling everything away.

It may sound like a job you can do in your sleep, but it wasn`t.

You had to properly determine who should receive a given document.  That was the responsibility of the manager.  Often he couldn’t establish who should receive it and needed to talk to some of his employees before locating the right individual.  Sometimes, he simply couldn’t figure it out and had to investigate outside our department.  Fortunately, this was required for receiving reports only; withdrawal slips were handed to us by the storekeeper.

It was feast or famine for a given person at Records.  He could be totally overwhelmed or have nothing to do.  The solution was to reallocate personnel.  But when production overheated, there were no easy options.

Since you were responsible for items in the same family, you had to ascertain you’re posting your document on the right card.  The best example I can give you relates to the person in charge of screws, nuts, and bolts; the various types are more numerous than the stars in the heaven!  This poor lady went nuts!  To complicate matters, since she couldn’t handle it by herself, she had an assistant, and she had to supervise and check the work of that person.  She was often heard swearing, luckily for the rest of us, since she was Romanian, most of us didn’t understand her.

With so much room for confusion, two or more cards were opened for the same article – or none at all.  Because of errors, some cards went in the red!  An impossibility of course.

All day we had to add or subtract in our head or on scrap paper.  There was only 1 adding machine for our whole area, and often it was used by the aforementioned Romanian lady.  As well, this was not an electrical adding machine similar to the ones that existed in the ‘70s, it was manual with a handle on the side that you pulled upon after entering a figure!  Often, it was faster to do it manually!  I can tell you that I rarely bothered using it even if it was available.  Had somebody brought us a one of the calculators that came out in the mi-‘70s, we would have thought that he was a visitor from another planet!  Under the circumstances, many errors occurred; and the inventory reflected by our card system was anything but accurate.

Which bring me to the parts planners.  They wore two hats:  Inventory control and purchasing.  Any one of those functions is daunting by itself; together, and using the primitive system we had at the time, it was enough to give that person a nervous breakdown, and one of them did indeed have a meltdown.  But even in the hospital he was not left in peace, his area was critical, and at least once a day he received a phone call or a visit from his manager; that didn’t hasten his recovery!

Running out of important parts was always a nightmare for a parts planner; human nature being what it is, that person blamed another party, usually the record keeper.  In reality Records acted as a safety valve, we often raised the alarm when we were getting low on a given article.  The storekeepers were also part of that alert system.  But despite all these precautions, inevitably a given area would run out of important parts, and sometimes production would come to a halt.

“There has to be a better system,” I often heard.  And a better system would indeed be implemented while I was still working there.

Posting on cards all day can become monotonous; the solution my manager proposed to me was “to put some colors into it.”  And I did just that.  I went beyond dry documents and cards; I talked with storekeepers, technicians, and even engineers.  My card system came to life for I generally understood the role played by most articles.  This would come in handy when the system was totally changed.  Indeed, it would serve me well throughout my working life; and my previous superior was blessed many times over that simple advice.

Perhaps our biggest problem was one of self-esteem.  Working at Records was often thought as a function that even a 10-year-old can do.  But as you’ve been apprised, things are never what they appear to be.

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