Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Can I Tell You About My Food Poisoning?

The title may be slightly misleading but only ever so much so. I really did get something that that could be food poisoning, I don't know, I've never actually had food poisoning. Anyhow, I'm sitting in a Ramada Inn in Cleveland, Ohio because I had to do a hazard assessment for a company here today. This should have been my first clue because this Ramada Inn is supposed to be a Holiday Inn. This was a Holiday Inn the last time I was here, a Holiday Inn with an Irish pub for a restaurant. Now it's a Ramada Inn with the torn off remnants of the Irish name and only the word pub left above the door, this should have been clue number two. I'm also quite distraught over the fact that the Holiday Inn was staffed by a large number of very good looking eastern european women who were actually friendly and helpful. This Ramada Inn is staffed by a group of half-ass Americans who don't give a good goddamn what the guests are doing as long as the guests don't want them to get off the fucking phone and assist with something. I called the restaurant for food and they put me on hold for 10 minutes so I hung up and called back and they put me on hold for another 10 minutes. This translates to 20 minutes of waiting just for food that sucked in the end anyhow. Once I ordered it was another half hour so nearly an hour. When I walked down to pick up my food there were 4 people in the pub including 2 employees. It's nice to know they only put you on hold when they're terribly busy and not simply because there's a hold button on the phone that they know how to and are willing to use because their conversation is stimulating. Anyhow I only bothered because I didn't really want to venture out into the town which is like 20 feet from the projects and I'm a long haired blonde guy with an Irish flag on the front of his Honda Civic which tends to draw unwanted attention. I'm still waiting to see if my crappy club sandwich nearly kills me like the food did yesterday. Now for the food poisoning. Like I said I'm not sure technically what constitutes a case of food poisoning but I'm guessing that it is this. Imagine eating a heaping spoonful of thumb-tacks, several broken razor blades, three rusty nails, a broken glass vase, a tablespoon of salt, and a quarter gallon of habanero pepper sauce just prior to being stabbed in the abdomen. This is the feeling I had the entire night after eating the meal last night. Now, moving on. On top of the bad food you can't close the curtains in this place. When I laid down to sleep I get lights blaring in my window like somebody is searching a darkened prison yard for an escapee. It's kinda hard to sleep when there are parking lot search lights in your eyes. So after a good night sleep of something like 1 hour I had to go to said facility and work. They were not very helpful but on the bright side I got to breathe toxic air for 5 hours. They use a lot of acid which is evident in the smoking residue eating volkswagon sized holes in the floors and the burning sensation in my respiratory system the entire time I was there. I've actually been coughing ever since I got back which is quite pleasant. The sad part is that people have to work in these conditions. I guess it's a job and most of them appear happy to have said job but I'm quite sure that despite the fact that I train them on potential hazards every year, they fail to understand the importance of this. I really like most of these guys who work here too. Maybe they're just friendly to me because they think I'm OSHA but I'm pretty sure that's not the case. They say hi to me, stop and talk to me, ask questions, they're quite friendly and helpful as much so as they can be. I had several guys stop what they were doing to answer my questions and explain to me how this process or that process works, without a second thought and they were quite busy. The problem came about when trying to ask them about working around corrosive materials, if they ever had symptoms of exposure. I get the impression that admitting that at the end of the day one has a headache or nausea is unacceptable because it would be like admitting weakness for them. At least one guy indicated in a not so subtle manner, that despite the in depth hazard communication / toxicology training I do with them every year, he still thinks that one can build an immunity to the ill effects of breathing toxic materials. This guy tells me he's been doing this for 30 years and he's very strong. It is possible this is true and he isn't getting enough exposure to cause anything bad to occur but the way he said it was not that. The way he said it lead me to believe that from time to time he notices uncomfortable feelings related to exposure while doing his job but he doesn't want to tell me about it. Oh well, I guess there's nothing I can do about that. I guess the fact that they have to replace their boots every 3 months because the corrosives dissolve them doesn't worry anybody too much. This is the joy of having any job in a shitty economy and it is why I feel bad for those who need to do these types of things to get by. Most of them are from other countries as well. Is this the American dream? Is this what somebody dreams of doing when they come here from Greece, Romania, Italy, Mexico, wherever it be? I think, sadly, this probably is what the American dream has come to, scraping by in a job that will kill you before your time, working 12 hour shifts 6 or 7 days a week, in a place far from home, all just in the name of existence. I guess this makes my food poisoning issue seem like a minor thing and yet I'll go on and continue with my own existence tomorrow when I wake up in a new day and return home to my own job sitting in an office writing my assessment. I will always wish I could help but I can only try to educate and attempt to give the company an idea of what they should be protecting employees against and then move on to the next, hoping each year to see the same friendly faces sitting in my training instead of being replaced by somebody who isn't yet sick from corroded lungs.

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