Some Assembly Required
My dad ran the maintenance group at a large but “thrifty” steel fabrication shop that had a lot of overhead cranes and tall presses that required constant troubleshooting. He broke many multimeters when they fell off ladders or cranes during repair work, so he bought cheap ones instead and wrapped them in foam rubber and duct tape to cushion the fall. One day during a critical repair, his meter fell and broke beyond repair. He rushed out during lunch to the closest electronics chain store to buy another cheap meter and was elated to find one on sale for less than $5. Back at the shop, he quickly wrapped it in foam and duct tape and climbed the ladder to get the crane back in service. But when he plugged in the leads and checked for voltage, the meter's needle wouldn't move. When he shook the meter to see if the needle was stuck, he heard rattling inside the case. Disgusted that the cheap meter was already broken, he pulled the top off to attempt a repair. Inside he found loose parts and the instructions on how to solder and assemble the build-it-yourself meter kit he had just purchased.
Hole In Four
After laying out the opening for a TV outlet in a lathe-and-plaster wall at a nursing home, I cut the hole only to find it was right in front of the drain line for the bathroom sink. No big deal, right? I decided to make a second hole, and figured it would be easy to patch up my first mistake. However, the second try was worse — this time I found the drain stack for the second floor. I still needed to get the outlet in, so I moved the box for the third time. This time I found a cold water line. Right about then my helper left the room because he was losing it, and I was left wondering if I had enough blank plates in the truck to cover all the damage. Thankfully, I got the box in with the next hole that I cut, and the maintenance guy took it well, considering he was the one who told me where to start cutting in the first place. Now I try to check both sides of the wall before cutting into it.
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Illustrations by Clint Metcalf