Homemade Flame Thrower
Our forklift was having fuel problems due to sawdust in the gas tank. One day, my brother, who is also our lead electrician, along with my lead mechanic, decided to clean out the tank. As I drove up to the shop that afternoon, I witnessed my brother on the forklift with a vacuum tube stuck in the gas tank and my mechanic holding a wet/dry shop vac standing in front of the forklift. Before I could get out of my truck, my mechanic turned on the vac, which instantly created a large flame shooting out of the top of the vac motor. I could hear my brother yelling, “Shut if off! It must have a short.” I've never seen a short throw so much fire! My mechanic, with singed beard and eyebrows, quickly tossed the vac into the yard where it melted into a pile of goo.
Never Check Messages During a Power Outage
When I was 19, my boss left me in charge of the sales floor of a well-known retail telemarketing center on a Friday evening. At the time, there was a typical Texas thunderstorm with lots of wind and lightning. Suddenly, the power went out in the building. Because emergency lighting kicked on, the computer stations were still running, so business continued. Shortly thereafter, one of the lead sales managers asked me to go see how the UPS was doing. He wanted me to check if there was any kind of battery life indicator on the unit. When I entered the locked room, the UPS was beeping and kept flashing, “check messages” on the status screen. I noticed there was a wheel on the UPS that could be turned to “check messages,” but I dared not turn it. I reported my findings to the sales manager, whose response was, “Go check the messages. There may be a problem.” Unfortunately, when I turned the wheel the entire place went pitch black and fell silent. I quickly tried to “undo” what just happened, but to no avail. The wheel would not go back to its original position. When I came back to work the following Monday, my boss just laughed and explained that you only check the messages after the power is restored. Even he did not know that it would shut down the entire UPS. The ironic thing is that I now design UPS systems for a living.
Got a story about a job-site blunder? Send it to [email protected]. If we publish it, we'll send you a check for $25.