At least I felt accomplished: I made a pattern! I was stacking pages of a catalog, which will be assembled "downstream" (as it were) from me: at today's station, the catalog pages come out folded and I set them on a pallet to be moved to where they'll be binded. (Those machines have darn good sensors that catch most mistakes, like if pages are missing or duplicated; I've sorted those discards so they can be fed back into the machine and properly bound. Technology can be -- well, not smart, but observant.) These stacks of partial catalogs need to be stacked in ways that'll keep them from falling over between now and binding.
You'll never have a really complicated pattern for it -- you're not playing Jenga -- but some different-sized bundles fit onto pallets less well than others, and then patterns aren't so simple. I figured out a less-simple pattern based on the size of the folded catalog pages. And it was easy enough for me to mirror on the next layer of pages (after I'd put down pallet-sized cardboard to cover what I'd put down). I made some experiments and corrected some mistakes, and I eventually shed the annoying feeling that some supervisor would see how I was doing it and say, "No, that's wrong."
I'm trying to less often feel like no matter how I do something, someone's going to make me change it to how they say it should be done. It was kind of satisfying that today the supervisors let me do that, even with something as basic as stacking piles of paper on top of piles of paper. I've known too many bosses who wouldn't let me figure out something for myself (it's only lip service to "initiative" if almost every time I try to take some you say "No") in a way that may not be exactly how they or you would do it, but which still works.
(Reminds me of an anecdote: director Sam Raimi's first studio film was Darkman, after he'd done independent films like the first two Evil Deads. Studio money equals people who do what you ask, instead of what Raimi was used to, doing it himself. Raimi said something like "On my previous films, I'd need a chair moved, I'd get up and move it. On this film, I tell a stagehand to move it; the stagehand won't move it exactly where I would've moved it, but the chair is moved expertly." He had trouble getting used to that.)
True, I've whinged about this before, but this reminded me why I whinge. And it feels nice that I was allowed to solve a problem.And that I still can solve a problem. My mind keeps working.