One day, I was assigned the task of checking out a tennis ball machine at a private tennis court. When I arrived at the site, I saw the machine was full of balls, but sure enough it wasn't working. I checked the outlet and found there was no voltage. I traced the supply to an underground cable that ran from a garage about 200 feet away. The cable was connected to a 40-circuit panel. After opening the panel, I saw that two breakers had tripped. I flipped them both back on, and waited a minute to make sure they were going to hold. When they did, I closed the panel and headed back to the machine. To my surprise, the ball machine was empty, and the court was covered with balls. I had forgotten to make sure the machine was turned off before I wondered away. This was a good reminder to never leave a switch in the “on” position when you're turning the power on in another location.
Watch Your Step!
After World War II, I began on-the-job training as an electrician with a local electrical company. One day, Bob (a coworker) and I were to install some new fluorescent lighting fixtures in a drug store. We were using our own lightweight 8-foot stepladder and a portable straight ladder to accomplish this task. We decided to lean the straight ladder on the two lightweight legs of the stepladder. I climbed up the straight ladder carrying a four-light, 40W fluorescent fixture, with stems and canopy. When I called out to Bob to come and help put the nut on the fixture stud, he quickly came running up the straight ladder, which snapped off both legs of the stepladder. We both came tumbling down and fell in a pile of the empty light fixture boxes on the floor. On the way down, we took some of the shelving and pill bottles with us. Although embarrassed, neither one of us was hurt. Despite this mishap, both of us went on to start our own electrical contracting business.
Illustrations by Clint Metcalf