By Bill Peckham
My second or third shift was at the GES warehouse. I had no idea what the shift would be but it turned out to be working for T in the sign shop (it wasn't a graphics department yet). I probably worked 25% of my shifts in the sign shop my first year in the union. It was definitely my preferred shift.
I don't know what the state of the art was in 1995 sign making but we made signs mostly two ways - either cut vinyl or with an ink press Gutenberg would recognize. At first I just helped but over time I had many shifts making booth identification signs on that press. Making signs old school.
Each booth at a trade show gets a 7" x 44" cardboard booth ID sign with the company name, often a booth number and sometimes city, state. It's still true today, but whereas today the sign stock is autofed through a modified desktop printer, back in 1995 ID signs were hand crafted using blocks of wood or metal. The work was to arrange the wood blocks as the sign would look in a mirror - reading right to left and then pressing the cardboard stock down on the inked wood letters. In all it was a pretty elaborate process to make 300 booth ID signs. Hour after hour of repetitive, finger staining work and after an eight hour shift I couldn't read a newspaper ... but I liked it in a love hate sort of way.
I think in 1996 a wide format printer was added to the sign shop's tools and more and more we were adhering computer printed paper to a substrate (foam board or card board). I think in 1997 I made my first signs for Northwest Kidney Centers, probably 15 or 20 to cover all the NKC units, probably to announce a patient picnic. Making those first signs was my first volunteer activity for NKC but since then I have been an NKC volunteer in many different ways, but making signs has been an ongoing activity. The total number of signs I've produced for NKC would have to number closer to 2,000 than 1,000; both companies I've worked for - first GES and now Triumph - have been willing to donate the sign making equipment and materials, so that I could make signs on my own time after hours.
Thus, Working directly led to Volunteering. If I hadn't started making signs for NKC it is hard to imagine that I would have become so involved in the organization. Work equals Travel, but it is also true for me to say: Work allows Volunteering. The three activities together - work, travel, volunteering - add up to evidence that I am habilitated to dialysis. If rehabilitation is the restoration of skills, habilitation is the maintenance of maximum self-sufficiency and function in a normal or as near normal manner as possible. I'm habilitated.