Do As I Say…
I work for a modular structures manufacturing company as a quality inspector. I have to verify that hi-pot dielectric testing is performed when Romex cable is used in the rough-in. A very qualified senior electrician who was training me would always tell me how easily someone could get zapped while doing it. He was so careful he would even yell, “Hi-pot!” to make sure no one was touching or working on the building when he conducted the test. Well, his day came when he grabbed a Romex wire with one hand and started his hi-pot with the other and zapped himself. It scared me to death, but as he was being shocked he stayed calm and told me it was all under control. I never knew if he got shocked because he wasn't paying attention or did it intentionally because he was trying to teach me a lesson. I think he got distracted, but he's never admitted the mistake to this day.
Wing and a Prayer
While I was in the Air Force, the same malfunction always occurred on a huge aircraft hangar door. The door was made up of three parts: two bi-parting doors and a third that lifted up for the planes' tails. I went in to repair this tail door many times with a master electrician who was training me, and we found that if you cranked it up, it would rest correctly on the limit switch when it came back down. I had to go fix it myself one day, so I began to crank it up but forgot one critical part: the bi-parting doors had to be open before the tail door was raised because it served in part as the upper track for the bi-parting doors. These 60-foot tall doors began to flail in the wind, and it was bar none the scariest experience of my life. The hangar was full of F-15 fighter jets, and I was about to take them out with this new giant fly swatter I'd created. Everyone in the hangar joined in and used every piece of equipment they had — de-icing ladders, etc. — to hold these massive doors while I drove across the base to get a 60-foot bucket truck. A couple of years later, someone told me the story of the stupid airman who almost took out an entire hangar's worth of planes, and I just laughed along.
Illustrations by Clint Metcalf