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Life Is Cheap May 21, 2007

Posted by gregquill in Uncategorized.

I work for many of the large pharmaceutical and medical device companies in America. Because my rate is high, I average six months at a client, though the last two each lasted ten months. I enjoy driving all over the country, meeting new people and working in many different places.

Some companies take their responsibilities for employee safety seriously. Safety shoes with steel toes, safety eyeglasses with side shields, and the occasional fire drill are required. Both the last client, in Chicago, and the present one, in New Jersey, conducted fire drills, required both by their insurance company and by the local fire marshall. In Chicago, they taught me where to go during a drill, and how to check in with the monitor there who checked my name off a list. Without a check mark, someone would have to go back into the flames to find my sorry carcass.

In New Jersey, there was no such preparation today. Knowing about the drill in advance, I searched on the company “intranet”, but there was nothing there. When the drill was held, I followed the herd out to one of the parking lots, where we waited for a while. Then, the herd reversed and we went back in. No muster, no inventory, no body count.

This place is full of foreign-born PHd’s, scientists, marketing people and engineers. From India, Pakistan, Ceylon, Taiwan, China, Singapore, Israel, Spain, Italy and Bosnia. All speaking their native languages, at stridently high volumes.

I remember the cattle cars and the tramp steamers I read about in history, from the 19th century. The number of workers killed while building the Golden Gate Bridge was 11; there were 5 deaths during the building of the Empire State Building; about 70 while building New York City’s tunnels; and 17 during construction of the Titanic. Today, that casualness toward workers’ dying isn’t allowed; but back then, life was cheap. Order another boatload of workers.

That’s why this company doesn’t make a list of those who got out of the building alive. Life is still cheap in many of those countries. Just order another boatload.

I hope that someone will check on my dog.



1. kenju - May 21, 2007

Did you point out to them the error of their ways?

2. Greg Finnegan - May 21, 2007

Yes, Kenju. There’s a meeting about it on Friday.

I am keeping a full glass of water at my desk in the meantime… just in case.

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