Cutting Tool Engineering
May 2013 / Volume 65 / Issue 5

I really, really love my job!

By Michael Deren

I love my job. I love my job. I love my job. Just keep repeating it to yourself and you’ll be convinced. Do you know how many times I’ve repeated it over the years? At least 428 times, or once a month for more than 36 years and 8 months!

I started saying it while operating a turret lathe in a dark, dingy machine shop. Oil from the machines permeated the air. Forget about mist collectors. I would come home with a rash all over my body from the airborne oil.

One day when machining hex stock for some fittings, I turned on the oil coolant and oil sprayed my face and glasses. I cleaned up, diligently went back to my machine and repeated the same process. Guess what? I received another face full of oil. I cleaned up again and, after my third oil shower, I remembered the definition of insanity: Repeatedly doing the same thing and expecting a different result. I quit that day. I guess I really didn’t really love that job after all.

Another time, I started as a manufacturing engineer at a company that had purchased its first two CNC machining centers 6 months earlier. Well, the one worker who learned to run the machining centers and used to run the Bridgeport mill had a couple questions for me. How dare I suggest using carbide cutters instead of the HSS tools he was running? How dare I suggest applying indexable cutters?

After we continued to butt heads day after day, I would actually come home talking to myself. One day, after a particularly high level of head butting, my wife fell over, laughing hysterically, after she asked me how my day was and I couldn’t get the words out of my mouth because I was stuttering so badly. Eventually, the operator and I reached a mutual understanding and became good friends. And I started to love my job.

While working at another company as a manufacturing engineer, I determined the owner was an entrepreneurial type because he owned a few other businesses along with the machine shop. If run correctly, the machine shop could have been a moneymaker. But it wasn’t. For example, the manufacturing engineers—there were three of us—had to convince the shop manager why he should run machining jobs requested by our customers. It was for him to decide? Give me a break! I don’t know who sold the owner on that philosophy, but the owner should have gotten his money back.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was when the owner hired an engineering manager with no engineering experience—let alone managerial experience—and who couldn’t tell a mill from a lathe. After a few months, I stopped loving my job and left.

In addition, how about loving to work with a bunch of prima donnas on the shop floor? Yeah, they’re the ones who’ve been working at the same company for years after having worked at one other place, doing something totally different. Typically, the companies with prima donnas are no longer in existence or their facilities were combined with one that has employees who give a damn. The prima donnas think they know it all, but have blinders on and aren’t open to suggestions. I’ve tried working as a manufacturing engineer at a couple of places that employed workers like that, but without management backing, I wasn’t able to succeed.

I love my job. I love my job. I love my job. If I haven’t said it 428 times, it’s certainly been close. Don’t tell me you don’t feel this way sometimes. I don’t really need to remind myself that often. I do love my job. If I didn’t, what would I do? CTE

About the Author: Mike Deren is a manufacturing engineer/project manager and a regular CTE contributor. He can be e-mailed at

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