Slower is faster – March 21, 2015

I have been working in the Sewing Plant for a week and a half.  On the second day, the Supervisor put me on the Bar Tack machine.  I never used the machine before.  I learned how to do the task and did 6 bundles the first day!  Production is 10 bundles.  The second day, I completed 8 bundles.  The supervisor raised my pay from Level 1 to Level 3 pay which is the max.  He told me I was close enough to production. I came back to work on Monday and did 8 bundles.  Tuesday, I came in to a broken machine, but I still managed to get 9 bundles done.

On Wednesday, my machine kept unthreading and I was getting frustrated.  The mechanic did some adjustments and said there was nothing wrong with my machine.  I thanked him, but the machine kept unthreading.  It would unthread almost every pair of pants and sometimes 2 to 3 times a pair of pants!  I knew at this rate, I wasn’t going to make production.  So I slowed down and watched the needle the whole time.  It took me an hour to do that bundle, but I realized something.  I sat there the whole day, frustrated, blaming the problem on the machine.  But the problem was “operator error”…  ME.  I was the reason why the thread kept coming out of the needle.

I realized that because I was trying to be fast, I was being careless.  I wasn’t smooth in moving the fabric.  I was jerking the fabric, causing it to knock the thread out of the needle.  The next bundle I did, I slowed down and learned how to move the material smoothly.  That bundle took me 45 minutes.  The next 35 minutes and now I can do a bundle in 30 minutes.  By going slower, I became faster.

Yesterday I did 8 bundles, and if we had more work to do, I would have done 10, but we ran out of work.  Because I slowed down and moved at a consistent pace, I only had to rethread my needle twice the whole day!  My fastest bundle was 27 minutes.  Almost as fast as the guy next to me and he moves faster, but he has to thread his machine more.

Imagine if we applied this concept to life.  People would be happier if they just would slow down.  Life would be smooth!  In society today, we have a tendency to rush and there is no need to rush.  We rush when we buy a house, car, drive, projects, dinner, dates, and the list goes on!  Challenge—try slowing it down and see what happens!


Meaningless – March 20, 2015

“I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure.  My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil.  Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.”  — Ecclesiastes 2: 10-11

As I was reading my Bible today, I ran across these two verses and they really hit home with me.  In the first few chapters of Ecclesiastes, “meaningless” is a common theme.  In fact, the book starts off with a headline in the NIV that says “Everything is Meaningless”.  But these two verses are from the section headlined “Pleasures are Meaningless.”  As you can read above, the author ends this section with verses 10-11.  He talks about how he got everything he wanted.  How he built houses, planted vineyards, made gardens and parks, bought slaves, a bunch of livestock, silver and gold, singers and women for his pleasure.  Then he ends with verses 10-11.  He ends with “Everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.”

After all this indulging in “Things” and pleasures, he realized that these things never made him permanently happy.  They made him feel good for a little while, then the happiness was gone.  A lot of times, people do the same thing now.  They buy everything, every pleasure their eyes see.  They rack up an enormous amount of debt to have these “things”.  It is a common theme in society today.

I am guilty!  I had to have the nicest cars, newest car, and I had to have three of them!  If we didn’t have the cash to eat out, we had a credit card.  We had great credit!  Why not?  In the end I made a huge mistake, lost my job and ended up in prison. Now my wife is filing for bankruptcy.

All those “things” and pleasures I needed, ended up hurting a lot of people.  All one person needs is God, air, food, water and shelter.  You don’t need to have a super nice house or a new car.  Like the author says “pleasures are meaningless.”  If you want an everlasting happiness, put your full faith and trust in God.  Do this and you can be happy living in a tent or walking to work!

Read Ecclesiastes 2: 1-10

Sewing Plant – March 11, 2015

Today was my first day at the Sewing Plant.  I was told that I was going to be clipping excess string off of clothes.  I wasn’t nervous, because that sounded easy and fun.  I like sewing, but I am happy to do whatever.  Well, I walked into the plant, and it was a little intimidating.

A ton of different machines and guys who were fast and working hard.  Well, I talked to my supervisor, Mrs. G., and she told me she liked my work on “Block bands, hemming and labels.  I looked at her and I said, “Ma’am, I only know how to do labels.”  She said, “I thought you did all three?”  I said, “No, Mr. S. split that task up between three people.”  She didn’t understand why he taught like that and told me that I can learn it.  I said “Okay!”

So the floorman, JR, taught me how to do hemming and blockband.  Blockbanding is easy and it is like labels.  Now hemming is a different story.  Some people were looking at me like I was crazy, because I couldn’t get the fold right.  It seems simple, but it isn’t as simple as it looks.  I started to get it by the end of the day.  I only completed 48 pairs of pants, 2 bundles, today.  The supervisors were very pleased though, because I just learned.  When you do the trio, you have 5 different things to sew on each pair.  I asked what “production” was and she said 6 bundles.  I know that I can make production in about 2 weeks, maybe less.

As long as my supervisors are happy with my progress, I am good.  Well, apparently everyone in the plant likes me.  I felt like I was an animal in a zoo or the popular hang-out spot.  Everyone kept checking on me, encouraging me, helping me.  It was all overwhelming.  Then the word got out that my Mom works for Hershey.  Supervisors were talking to me, officers, inmates, all asking if she can send some chocolate for them.  Haha!

Then Mike, in my block calls me “Special Ed”.  So now everyone is calling me that.  I am used to it, because I have a degree in Music Ed and I was licensed in Special Education as well.  People called me “Music Ed” and “Special Ed” all the time.  I actually think it is kind of funny.  However, those are not the reasons Mike calls me “Special Ed”.  There is this one officer that always let s me out of my roonm first every morning for breakfast.  Mike said, “Ed, you are special,” and I said, “I know I am Special Ed.”  And it stuck ever since.  Haha!

Overall, the first day on the job was great!  Look forward to conquering “Hemming” Haha!

Surprise Snow – Feb 24, 2015

Yesterday on the news, it said that Asheville was to expect a chance of snow, about a dusting to an inch of snow.  Asheville is about 33 miles from Marion.  Marion was expected to get nothing…. maybe a dusting if we were lucky.  They said that the highest elevations would get 2 – 3 inches of snow.  I woke up this morning like a kid and looked out the window.  The ground is completely covered in snow and the snow is pretty heavy coming down.  We didn’t have a winter weather advisory or anything!  I would say by the time it is all said and done, we will get 2 – 4 inches of snow.

We are in the foothills of the mountains and far away from the highest elevations.  As I am writing, 10 feet away from my windows, the snow is coming down heavily, and I ca see it.  This is so exciting!  It reminds me of a time when I was about 9 or 10 years old.  They were calling for a lite snowfall overnight.  When we woke up to get ready for school/work, there was 27 inches of snow. My parents were getting ready for work, and I told them they weren’t going.  They looked out the window and were surprised.  It had snowed about 3 – 4 inches an hour that night.  There were 6 foot drifts blocking our doors.  The only way we could get out was to open the garage door.

My step-Dad took the snow blower out of the garage and started blowing the snow.  He also plowed an area in the yard for the dogs to use the bathroom.  When the snowplows came though, the snow piles were so high we could sled down them and make tunnels.  It was pretty awesome.  That was also a big drift right under our deck.  I jumped off the deck into it and didn’t even touch the ground (note from Mom: I told him many times not to do this.) What a great time!  I LOVE snow!

Pictures – Feb 22, 2015

The other day, an inmate and I were playing Monopoly.  I don’t know if he is in a gang or what he has done, but his morals aren’t great.  This doesn’t bother me because you never know when you will get a chance to talk about God with another brother.  Well, an opportunity arose that day, but I didn’t have to talk about God or Christianity or religion.  It was simple.  He asked if I wanted to buy some inappropriate pictures of women.  I said, “no thanks” and he asked me “why not?”  I said that women are valuable and they de-value women.

I was very nice about it.  I have had to learn that over the past 10 months.  I would be a liar if I told people that I have NEVER looked at inappropriate pictures of women. I am not proud of those moments in my life, but I have found GOD is greater than anything, even myself.  I didn’t tell him that.  I walked away and another inmate looked at him and said, “He is a Christian.”  The inmate with the pictures said “I am too.  I read my Bible and believe in Jesus.”  The other inmate said, “That doesn’t make you a Christian.  You cuss, gamble and look at pictures.”  I stood watching some guys playing Scrabble and smiled at this conversation.

Today I was sitting with the choir waiting for the inmates to file in at church.  The last inmate to walk in was the inmate that had the pictures.  I looked at him and smiled.  Then the Chaplain was near the end of his message and said, “If you want to show people that you are a real Christian, don’t go back to the block cussing, gambling and trading pictures.”

The inmate that had the pictures leaned over, turned his head and looked at me, smiled and shook his head. You can’t be afraid to take a stand for what you believe.  I will continue to pray for this young man and his family.  He asked the Chaplain to pray for the inmates, their families and to pray that we (inmates) will lift each other up!  I cried!  I mean that!