Lack of Common Sense
Recently, we needed to work on the towing mechanism on one of our portable emergency generators. This mechanism locks the trailer brakes, so if it's parked on a hill it won't roll away. One problem is that if you are backing the generator uphill this also locks the brakes. To overcome this hurdle we fabricated a pin that allowed us to disable the brakes when backing the unit up. To make this work, we needed to drill a hole in the trailer tongue, so I went to the jobsite with one of our electricians to accomplish this task. Once on site, I noticed that the electrician had brought his corded drill with him instead of his cordless. Like any good helpful engineer, I set off on a safari to find a place to plug in the drill. After a few minutes, I heard the generator start. As soon as I heard this sound, I realized that what they say about engineers and common sense is true. Needless to say, my electrician — who had a lot more common sense than me — easily found the power source needed for his drill.
Catching the Big One
Many years ago, I worked as an apprentice maintenance electrician at a major Bay Area hospital. After completing my apprenticeship, I took another job at a place a little closer to home, but kept in contact with my buddies at the hospital. Shortly after I started my new job, I got a call from one of my old coworkers telling me about an incident that happened to the apprentice who had taken my place. The guy was pushing in a fish tape from an electrical closet to a J-box in a fan room. Unfortunately, the natural curve of the tape allowed it to clear the J-box and keep right on going. It eventually got caught up in the fan pulley. Before he could react, it had “spooled” his tape and jammed up the fan. The lesson is clear. If you don't pay attention to where you're fishing, you may catch a lot more than you counted on.
Santa Cruz, Calif.
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