Off the Deep End
My apprentice and I were in a high-rise apartment building taking care of repair orders on a cold winter day. One of the problems we had to take care of was a noisy fan coil heater that was suspended above the edge of an indoor pool. I felt secure as I stood on a three-legged ladder, but that changed quickly when I reached for the far cover thumbscrew and fell. The next thing I knew I was standing waist-deep in water. My trousers, tools, and wallet were thoroughly soaked. Thankfully, no one else was in the pool area. I had no choice but to go to my van, turn up the heater, and head home for a quick change. At least my apprentice learned a good lesson: Always use a three-legged ladder properly.
Drink and Be Buried
About 10 years ago I worked for this very soft-spoken Irishman named Joe. One day after arriving at a job at a residence, he started to give me a lecture about how the last time I drove a ground rod for him it was too far away from the wall, subject to physical damage, and so on. So this time he started up the hammer drill exactly where he wanted me to drive it in the garage slab. Later Joe says in his Dublin drawl, “I think you're in luck. The drill went in really easy, and now you can drive the rod right here.” He picked up the rod, lined it up with the hole, and let go…and it disappeared. I went to get a flashlight, thinking that maybe the rod dropped into a crawl space under the garage. When I came back, Joe was on all fours, looking into the hole. “There's an old bar down there!” he exclaimed. We finally found some painted hinges in a paneled wall in the basement and opened it up to find an old abandoned “speak-easy.” The owner had lived there for 10 years but had no idea it was there. It had a dirt floor, an old cabinet bar, some tables and chairs, a dart board, empty bottles, and a new ground rod!
Illustrations by Clint Metcalf