Plastic Blow Mold Operator
The topic du jour is about my pre-professional career. I held a slew of odd jobs in my teens and early twenties. For a short while, I was a grunt construction laborer, shoveling out foundations, loading bricks into a wheelbarrow and delivering them to mason, and site/trash cleanup. I got fired from that job for goofing off and trying to engage a fellow laborer in a pretend sword fight with a couple of pieces of trim. They kept him on. LOL.
I quit three jobs after my first day. I was hired by a large sporting goods store in Tyson’s Corner and given the task to peel off and stick small price tags on several hundred golf balls. I couldn’t figure out why they didn’t just post a sign with the price on the huge box holding them. I walked out at my lunch break.
The Virginia Unemployment Commission sent me to a job with a small company that was refurbishing old industrial filing cabinets that they had bought at an auction. They looked to be WWII relics and weighed a ton. A couple of people had power metal sanders. I was given a file. In the afternoon, a woman using the power sander got shocked. She was a large woman from West Virginia. She was bigger than me and easily manhandled the cabinets. She screamed loudly until someone had the good sense to yank the cord out of the socket. She then let out with an impressive string of curse words. Then she walked around shouting, “It bit me.” The boss wanted her to go to the ER and get checked out, but she was having none of it. She didn’t want to lose the hours or have to pay for medical services.
Another company located a block away had a Help Wanted sign out. I stopped by on my way to the Bus Stop and filled out a one-page application. I started the next day and actually worked there for three days. It was a plastics manufacturer. They had both blow molding and extrusion machinery. I worked on a two-man blow molding machine making drinking water pitchers for hospital rooms. The two operators worked in tandem. The pitcher molds were were as made from molds were Hot plastic was fed into the top of the mold and then an air blast would expand it. The mold would slide open and we would remove the pitcher, tear off the excess plastic at he top and bottom, and toss it into a large container. It took about 45-seconds to complete each pitcher.
My co-worker was pretty cool. He had recently got discharged from the Army. He had been drafted and served two years in the Infantry. If I recall correctly, he did a 13-month tour in the Jungle of Vietnam. On the fateful third day, my co-worker had trouble pulling one of the pitchers out of the mold. The steel mold slammed shut on his hand. We each had a floor mounted switch that we could step on to force the mold to open. I guess the shock of the mold crushing his hand caused him to forget the switch. I ran around to his side and stomped on the switch. We wore gloves to protect us from the hot plastic. But I could tell his hand was crushed. He kept screaming. Our boss ran over and helped him walk over to a nearby bench. An ambulance was called. The factory was located off of Duke Street in Alexandria. It was only a couple of miles to the Hospital in Old Town. I quit after the accident. Hopefully, he was not severely injured.
I did a Bing search for plastic blow molding and found the following illustration and a picture of a modern blow molding machine that was for sale on Alibaba. The machine shown is less than a forth of the size of the machine I operated back in 1971.