Tuesday, April 19, 2011

P.....is for Proof machine operator

which was my second job at the bank. I took this position because it was more money for one thing and, secondly, for the hours. The bank was beginning to computerize and new proof machines were purchased and utilized. Those machines would imprint the MICR encoding along the bottom of the checks. (MICR means magnetic ink character recognition) You will see it now along the bottom of your checks; it depicts the bank's routing numbers as well as your personal account number. The MICR proof machine adds the amount the check is written for in the extreme right bottom corner. The checks go through the computer so fast there are bound to be "rejects". Checks ripped or folded or ones that have been subjected to water or food or maybe just a smudge of dirt may be rejected but they still have to be processed. This is where the proof machine pictured comes into play. It does not MICR imprint but it does add and sort. These were the machines exclusively used before the MICR imprinting was used and now they are used to process the rejects. In the second picture you can see just how big these machines are.

I had trained in high school to do secretarial work; I could type 90 words a minute and take 120 words a minute with shorthand. (once I started working, I only used shorthand one time, so that was almost wasted knowledge) Anyway, I was offered the job of processing the rejects utilizing this machine, which had nothing to do with typing and shorthand. I did not know how to operate it at the time, but I guess they felt I'd master it sooner or later. My hours were 6 pm until we finished. Yes, that part was nice. I got paid for a 40 hour work week but a lot of times I worked much less. If we had a good night where everything balanced, we could finish up and be out of there in about 4 and a half hours. Of course, if we had a bad night, we could be there for 10 hours and there was no overtime. Mostly, we averaged about 6 and a half hours a night, with shorter hours on Wednesday and Saturday since the banks were open a half day on those days back then. And since we worked nights, after the bank was closed, we didn't have to dress up. We could go to work in casual clothing.

I loved this machine. I loved everything about it. I had to run each check through, adding it up using the 10-key adding machine and then push the correct sorting slot for it to go into as I put it in the machine. There were 32 sorting containers on a big wheel inside the machine. That was accessed by a small door on the side of the machine. (you can see the 32 sorting buttons in 4 rows of 8 situated left of the numerical 10-key keyboard) We didn't use all 32 slots.....if I remember right, I think we used only half that. The back of the machine opened up to reveal 32 rolls of adding machine tape, one for each sorting slot, that carried its own balance. I was good at what I did.....I could accurately process 1,600 checks an hour. My fingers flew! After I was finished with the checks and everything balanced, they were then sent to be microfilmed, which is the first job I did. (see post "M")

I worked at this job until I was 8 months pregnant. When my youngest was 5 and I wanted to go back to work, I inquired about getting back into this same department, but things had once again changed and now each branch was doing their own proof, which took a lot less time and was handled by an employee who did other functions there as well. It just would not have worked out for me, so I brushed up on my typing skills and ventured elsewhere to job hunt.

What was/is your favorite job of all time? Have you had the experience of training for one type of job only to land in another kind of profession entirely? I did end up my work career with secretarial work but I still hold a fondness for that proof machine. I think the reason could be that no one bothered me with any demands.....I got all my work as it came down from the computer room in the "reject" batches and simply did it. I was not interrupted and since I was the only one working at that hour who knew how to run that particular machine, I was given a lot of respect. And running the machine was FUN. Especially when I hit the total key after each batch and it balanced.


glnroz said...

i read "fun" in this. I have always been fasinated by the earlier machines that once was the "latest thing" in new technology. lol.. now i am lost

dana said...

My favorite job (but I didn't know it was my favorite until I'd worked at others) was as a long distance operator. I was 18 and sat on a high stool in front of an even higher bank of "holes" and each hole had a corresponding "bullet shaped" bronze piece, with a six foot cable attached, that I would put in the hole to make phone to phone connections. Then I had the old rotary type of dial that I dialed with a pencil to keep from getting blisters on my fingers.

Kids today....hah! They have no idea what enjoyment you and I got from having REAL work to do!

p.s. My manuscript is up to be read at http://www.danamazing.blogspot.com

Leave a comment Val.

Cheryl said...

Great post Val! I love being a hairdresser in the salon I work at, so it's my favorite job. My second job was taking catalog orders for Sears over the phone. I loved it! I've always thought I'd like to be a receptionist, but only if it paid more.

Jan said...

I had a similar background; I took typing and shorthand in high school, but Proof was my first job after high school. I ran the type of proof machine that encodes. We had several different types of machines during the 9 yrs. I worked in Proof. The first one looked similar to the one in your picture; then we had one with the 16 pockets out to the side; then down to 4 pockets; then down to l. I can't believe I can still remember which checks or other documents went into which pockets after all these years! I liked the same thing about the job that you did: not being bothered by demands. In addition to running the Proof machine, I was able to gain experience in all the other balancing jobs in the Proof Dept. For the first couple of years, we had alot of overtime, then as technology progressed our hours were shortened, so, like you, I also was paid for 40 hours while working much less. I ended up in legal secretarial, which is what I'm still doing.