Patricia Craig Johnson --- Searching for My Ancestors --- Sharing My Life Stories

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

How Soon We Forget -- Work That Is

The other day I was thinking about my pre retirement days otherwise known as working days. I still don't know why that should pop into my head after almost 15 years, but who can figure out the human brain? 15 years ago in August I retired from Hewlett Packard. I had the best job in the world and it took me many years to find it, but it fit me and my personality like a glove. I loved it. I was a Dimensional Metrologist in the Gage and Metrology Lab. What is it? It is the science of precision measurement. Hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, millionths, ten millionths and one hundred millionths of an inch. These were everyday terms to me then. Even as a child I needed things to be "square and parallel" and didn't even know those words existed. That is why I knew I had found my perfect job when I went to work in the Gage and Metrology Lab.

We were a group of mechanical people in an electronic company and we stuck together. Some of our favorite customers were other mechanical people like tool and die makers, machinists, and sheet metal operators. Yes, even the electrical engineers needed us, because even though their expertise was electrical, they still needed to physically measure things. It was a great job and I loved it. It was a never ending variety of gages and measuring devices. As new projects began, new measuring devices were required and we were always learning something new.

The picture above is a collection of micrometers. Micrometers and calipers are the most basic of measuring devices, but so very necessary in a manufacturing environment. Some of my very favorites were thread gages. Threads are taken for granted, especially precision threads. Think about the threads that hold devices together in outer space, someone better be sure they are correct and meet the specifications. No one thinks about how we know if they are correct. It takes thread plugs, thread rings, thread wires, gage blocks and comparators to check threads. Each of those have a specification as well, and this is where the Metrology Lab enters the picture. For most of us threads aren't that critical but in some industries, threads are a life or death component.

I worked in what we called the "back room". It was my territory. Only people that are loners can stand to be in a 68 degree Fahrenheit room by themselves, but I liked it. 68 degrees F is the temperture that steel has to be, to be stable. Measuring in millionths of an inch requires as much stability as possible. Nothing created action more than to have the "back room" register 69 degrees F. Of course, I had a desk in the main room of the Lab and was out there whenever I wanted to be, but the "back room" was my favorite. Not even the boss came back there, it was a plum of a job.

Gosh,it's good to think about those things again. Retirement has brought me new activities and projects and that is good, but the working days need to be remembered as well. I consider myself lucky to have found the perfect job in my lifetime. I wish that for everyone.

Now life has led me to other interests and they are great, too. But I will never completely forget the best job in the world -- the best one for me anyway. Stay tuned, Patj

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