The Mechanic

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: True Confessions  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: February 03, 2017

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Submitted: February 03, 2017



One night when I was patrolling in the production hall, when I have inserted a metallic nail into the fast moving air compressor. I did this because I want to stop the production process. I believed, if the production has stopped, then two things can happen. First my fifteen years painful service will be recognized and second, the philosophy on the relationship between job position and education will be revised. I am the key but a least paid person in the factory. 

My name is Mulugeta Assefa. I am the chief mechanic at the Ethiopian Mosquito Controlling Chemical Processing Factory. I am responsible for the well-being of the treatment plant which is called the grinding line. This line consists of hammer crusher, bucket elevator, buffer, screw feeder, grinder heater, ball mill crusher, built in classifier, filter bag collector, discharging screw, convenient valve lower, muffler, air compressor, electrical control cabinet, and powerhouse.  

The process starts when raw material first reaches at hammer crusher to be crushed to smaller sizes of particles – which we measure in microns. The long non-stopping bucket elevator then transports the crushed particle to the buffer. The buffer is a big tank like structure in which the particles are stored until transported to the heating unit for drying. The screw feeder is a wonderful but frequently failing unit that transports particles from the buffer to the heating unit at a constant rate. 

I spent most of my time in the most dangerous unit – the grinder heater. It's noise and temperature look like a hall. When this heater fails, three to four hours are needed to cool down for maintenance. I have spent more than a decade dealing with a machine full of ghosts. I always fear that this machine will catch fire – and that will be the end of my life. 

The well heated and dried materials then enter the ball mill crusher – another machine with horny ghosts. This machine is worst of all machines – I lost my finger last year while maintaining it. Ball mill crushers require lubricant charging every three to four hours; otherwise, it will fail and production will be stopped at least for one day.  I have to patrol this machine every hour to see it is well lubricated and the noise level is as usual. 

I love the built-in classifier – it does not disturb me and does not require frequent inspection. Failure symptoms and remedy actions are quite clear. The Chinese made, fake filter bag collector is funny – it does not filter the chemical particles from the air. There are birds, bees and other insects in the filter chute – they don’t die. I never figure out in my fifteen years work experience. The remaining machinery is almost same to me except the air compressor and electrical control cabinet.  

That night, when I approached the compressor to throw the mail, I did not saw the chief production engineer was hiding at the top of the roof. After I throw it, I heard a very frightening sound and saw a spark flame. I cannot explain why the spare did not create a fire in the room. The chemicals are hydrocarbons and are very inflammable when getting an even slightest spark. 

I was not late to recognize that the noise could be heard almost everywhere in the factory. Operators in the raw material charging, the electrician in the cabinet or technician in the ball mill have definitely heard the noise. 

I was extremely shocked – somebody failed from the roof down the floor. He was the chief engineer. He moaned hard when he hit the ground with his face. His eyes were turned red and his face was full of chemical dust. Oh my God! He might have been there for long and inhaled the dangerous chemical dust. 

I had never seen anybody survived after two hours exposure to the chemical dust. If he dies, it will be the most regretting thing in my life.  In just seconds, I tried to visualize his and his family life – especially his mother. He is the only son who takes care of her. His girlfriend is also dependent on him. 

Due to his stubborn stands; the management may not help him getting proper compensation – until they are sure he is not the one behind the air compressor failure. The technical manager is not happy with the chief engineer’s activities. The chief engineer is considered by most people as a fanatic. He does not understand what people want – he just simply rushes against actual facts. 

Everybody, including the security guards, has arrived and saw the chief engineer bleeding.  He was attempted to shout at me. It is my third time when the chief engineer has caught me red handed damaging machinery. He can’t proof in front of the technical manager or other officials. Everybody believes me and blames him for his groundless accusations. 

I was paused and not able to help the people when they pick him to the hospital. My mouse was dried, my body was sweating. My heart was trampling. I did not say anything about what happened. 

Unexpectedly, everybody believed that the chief engineer is the reason for the compressor failure and production termination. Everybody cursed him thinking the malaria victims who are dying due to the shortage of the processed chemical in the country. A few months later, chief engineer was dismissed because of this incidence and some other office issues. 

In most factories in our country, like ours, key staffs such as chief mechanics earn half the salary of ordinary admin staff. I am the one when can stop or run the factory. I am not well educated beyond high school; but I know I things goes in the factory. Nobody valued my role. Recently graduated younger people like the chief engineer earn twice as much as I do. I teach them everything when they arrive at the factory. It does not take them long when they start telling me what to and what not to do. 

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