As an electrician in a factory 20 years ago, I was working off an extension ladder, which was leaning on a ceiling beam, while running conduit to hook up a piece of equipment. I was a little green at that time and pushing hard to get the job done before the end of the day. About a half-hour before quitting time, I finished running the conduit, pulling the wires, and checking the motor rotation. I went to take the ladder down, but discovered I couldn't because I had run the conduit between two rungs of the ladder. It was too late to try to correct my mistake, so I had to tell my boss about it. Everybody had a good laugh except me and my partner on the job — he had been working right alongside me but hadn't noticed the mistake either.
Once in the mid '80s, I was driving ground rods and running ground wire before setting a pre-cast utility transformer pad in place at a car wash facility. I forgot to grab the ground rod driver that morning, so I had to improvise. I had seen the landscape contractors use a post driver to set supports for some of the trees they were planting, so I borrowed it. All was going fine until the 8-foot rod was about 4 feet into the ground. As I began my next downward stroke the top of the rod caught the bottom edge of the driver. I was leaning into it, so all of my downward force was transferred to the driver and it came back and hit me in the head. Not to be deterred, I started swinging the driver again. I thought I was beginning to sweat pretty hard, but I soon realized it wasn't sweat running down my face. The top of the driver had cut my forehead open. Five stitches — and a bit of blood loss — later, I decided my dad was right when he told me to always “use the right tool for the job.”
Illustrations by Clint Metcalf