Everyone makes mistakes. Some are just funnier than others.
Raking Rookie Over the Coals
About 20 years ago, I was working as an electrician on an upscale multi-story condo project with about 10 large units per floor. I was going floor to floor, making up the meter banks that fed each unit in a common electrical room. I had caught up to the floor where a crew of about 15 guys were roughing in the metal stud walls. Working alone, I could hear them chatting about what they were doing. Earlier that day, the drywall guys had rocked the core area and covered up an outlet that they had to feed other outlets from. The leader of the crew was kind of a clown, so he instructed the greenest guy to go and fetch a “box finder” from the tool room downstairs. Wanting to get in on the action and knowing the rookie would pass by me on the way to the elevator, I looked around the electrical room floor and found a scrap piece of ceiling wire about 2 feet long. I quickly made several random bends on it with my pliers, screwed wire nuts on each end, placed the contraption in the bottom of my toolbox, and closed the lid. After a minute or so, the “victim” turned the corner and spotted me. After asking him if he needed anything, he explained that he was going downstairs to look for a “box finder.” He was so relieved when I told him I had a spare. Reaching into my toolbox, I handed him the tool, adding, “‘Don't drop it, it's brand new.” He turned around and headed back to the other guys. About 30 seconds later, I heard an eruption of laughter from the entire rough-in crew. Fortunately, the “green horn” was good natured about the practical joke.
Wrath of the Runaway Reel
One Friday, I ordered a 500-foot reel of 500 kcmil wire to be delivered to the jobsite on Monday morning. When I arrived on site, however, I found out the concrete floor would be poured that day. So I had to send the material back to the electrical supply house, as there was no place to store it. Realizing I could install the wire on Tuesday, I went to the supply house and put the reel of wire in my van, blocking the reel so it wouldn't roll around in my truck — so I thought. Although I drove very slowly to the jobsite, when I arrived and opened the back roll-up door, I found the whole inside of my truck, including material and tools, covered with white paint. Crushed by the reel, a gallon of white paint I had in the truck had exploded. Not thinking straight due to my anger, I rolled the reel out of my truck and onto the new concrete floor. Things went downhill from there. Realizing that I was putting a depression in the new floor, I quickly put 2-inch by 12-inch boards under the reels to serve as runners. To make matters worse, when I went back to my truck to grab my hammer drill, I found that the reel had also crushed my new metal case with the hammer drill in it. Needless to say, this was not a very good day.
Illustrations by Clint Metcalf