What Factory Life Taught Me

Old Auto Factory In Detroit

Article by Wendy McCance

People have asked me how I can be so honest with my feelings when I write.  How is it possible to really say what’s on your mind?  I can’t believe you use your real name and just put it all out there.  Wow, your brave, I could never do that.

If you have ever wondered how I am able to be so authentic in this blog, I have an answer to your curiosity.  I worked at a car plant for 7 years.  While I was there, I lost a portion of myself.  People would joke that to work at an auto factory was to sell your soul to the devil. The money was great, but the psychological games really destroyed people.  The ideal person in managements eye was the person with a low education but strong mechanical abilities.  They looked for the people who did a job, had no friends, didn’t say anything and basically acted like a robot.  Anyone with friends, a distinct personality or a person who was smart was a threat.  Management would do all they could to break their spirit.  Lies would be told, rumors would be started and harassment on the line in front of others was constant.  Why?  Because these were people who management believed could be a threat.  They had the ears of others, could figure out when games were being played and could create chaos based on their opinions.  Basically, others would look up to them as leaders.

When the plant closed, I was upset about the income loss, but relieved to be out of such a toxic, devastating environment.  I had actually seen several old-timers who had literally lost their mind.  They would mumble to themselves or shout things out to no one in particular.  They were empty souls, shells of themselves who were no longer recognizable to themselves or others.  Management would let them roam the factory floors.  They were of no use on a job and would just cause a stir with the other employees.

When I had been at the plant, I was able to jump on most jobs and do what needed to be done.  I also knew how to do repairs and had designed a tool for one of the jobs.  Managements opinion of me was love/hate.  I was really valuable and could keep the line moving.  I could do a repair without stopping the line and could find others mistakes and fix them.  I had a solid group of friends and they spanned the entire plant.  I had literally worked every area of the plant except for paint and the body shop.  Management was happy to get a person who didn’t need to be babysat on the line.  Even so, the insecure supervisors had major trust issues with me.  They thought I could rally the troops if I so desired.  These were the people who made life at work rough.  I worked at the same plant as my ex-husband.  My then supervisor knew that there was a restraining order and that my ex-husband had been warned that if he didn’t stop showing up in my area that he would be fired (we worked two different shifts and management had pulled me from one location and hid me in an area where I could work with relatively little traffic around the area).  This was in hopes that the ex wouldn’t know where I was or if I was still even at that plant.  He still found me.  This happened several times.

I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly while working at the plant.  I have seen horrible fights, terrible treatment of employees and people lose themselves, their families and basically their life outside of the plant just for a paycheck.  There was so much lying and deviousness that it really wore away at your view of the people who surround you.

Once the plant closed and I was no longer working there, I slowly found my old self again.  I realized that life in the plant was a far cry from life outside of it.  There were places you could work and people you could socialize with that were true to you as well as to themselves.  I never wanted to experience anything like what life in the plant was like again.  I became determined to always show my most authentic side and surround myself with people who felt the same way.

Writing this honestly and keeping it real is a way to honor myself and the people who read this.  I would like anyone who reads this blog to feel like they are hearing from an old trusted friend.  I think there is no better way of writing than to put it all out there and stomp out the fear of writing what I feel and the any possible negative response from others.


Wendy McCance

Wendy McCance is a Michigan based freelance writer and social media consultant. Wendy has gained attention as the founder of the popular blog Searching for the Happiness which can be viewed in 6 local papers online, including the Oakland Press.The combination of writing skills and social media knowledge is what makes Wendy such a powerhouse to work with. Stay tuned for opportunities to advertise, guest post and as always, have your questions answered.

To contact Wendy McCance about a writing assignment, interview or speaking engagement, please email her at: [email protected]

12 thoughts on “What Factory Life Taught Me

  1. Wendy,

    Great article, what you write how you write it with such passion, creates that bridge of trust to the truth. When I read an article of yours, I have no qualms linking the readers that read my “stuff” to your site.. Thanks for sharing and keep on writing the good “stuff”


  2. I can relate to your story. I worked for decades in the hotel sales industry and I worked for a variety of very insecure and malicious managers. I lost myself in the process. It has taken years after a breakdown to find peace and my sense of self. I now have a low stress, less glamerous job, but I am happy and self confident. And now I write.

    • It’s so good to hear from someone who really gets what it was like. I think that when you go through an experience like that and get to the other side, your appreciation for an honest life with people who are nice means everything. It definitely changes your perspective on what’s important. i think it’s fantastic that you write now. :)

  3. I also once worked at a place that was toxic. The people were so afraid of me that they got me to a place that I just quit….I couldn’t take it anymore….never once regretted it. So keep it up! Your doing great!

  4. Interesting. Your ex had a restraining order, and in spite of being told he could get fired for messing with you, he wasn’t. My immediate question would be, “Where was your shop steward?” As a former steward myself (I’m now semi-retired medically), I would have been all over that situation.

    The same question applies to the supervisor’s shenanigans, too. But it’s a testament to your perseverance, your strength of will, that you came out of that atmosphere with your sanity and self-respect more or less intact. I applaud you!

    • Thanks so much. It was a messed up situation. Security knew what was going on as well. One day I had to call them for help when my husband blocked my car in while I was in the parking lot with his car and then proceeded to get out and scream at me while I was stuck in my car. The worst supervisor was finally transferred to another plant after he hit on a transvestite (he hadn’t realized) and wouldn’t stop trying to initiate something. If it had been a woman, nothing would have happened. Because it was a transvestite, management was afraid of the possibility of a lawsuit. Pretty messed up.

        • We didn’t have a shop steward. I’m guessing the closest we had to that would be the union officials. On occasion you would get a great official in your area that really fought for you. The last few years before the plant closed, the union worked along side management and are representation wasn’t there any more.

  5. I have never have worked in a factory let alone anywhere but after reading this I am glad that I haven’t and I think it is great that you no longer work there. I also do feel like you are and old friend when I come here your blog always makes me smile and feel good

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