crock of .... moment welding

Hi all
Is this a UK only thing?
Had a moment where I thought "This is a crock of ...." and left
questioning whether ever worth coming back to welding work.
This is a general situation - don't construe one Company
There's "health and safety officers" and "project managers" but no
quality control. They cruise up to NDT/NDE towards the end of the
project / build with no quality control then get upset and do
managerial things when those final inspections are declared not
meeting specification.
Like - to a technical mind - in what way does that make sense?
Techniques used for welding are never critically evaluated -
qualitatively and quantitatively - to prove whether or not a welding
solution provides the range of requirements needed (forget "Weld
Procedure Qualification Records" and "Welding Procedure
Specifications" - they are a side-show of no direct relevance to
production welding).
Always centred on the mystique of "learning the magic weave" (sic.)
I worked hard for many years learning techniques and delivering welds
- but came to this moment of - what is there here as I arrive which it
worth the striving I put in?!
Anyone else met this?
Is a UK thing with our "post-industrial" "service economy" "managerial
excellence" way?
The search for "objective verifiable criteria" has lead to a "tick-box
culture" with all sense departed long ago?
Reply to
Richard Smith
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Hi all Is this a UK only thing? Had a moment where I thought "This is a crock of ...." and left questioning whether ever worth coming back to welding work. This is a general situation - don't construe one Company There's "health and safety officers" and "project managers" but no quality control. They cruise up to NDT/NDE towards the end of the project / build with no quality control then get upset and do managerial things when those final inspections are declared not meeting specification. Like - to a technical mind - in what way does that make sense?
Techniques used for welding are never critically evaluated - qualitatively and quantitatively - to prove whether or not a welding solution provides the range of requirements needed (forget "Weld Procedure Qualification Records" and "Welding Procedure Specifications" - they are a side-show of no direct relevance to production welding). Always centred on the mystique of "learning the magic weave" (sic.)
I worked hard for many years learning techniques and delivering welds - but came to this moment of - what is there here as I arrive which it worth the striving I put in?!
Anyone else met this? Is a UK thing with our "post-industrial" "service economy" "managerial excellence" way? The search for "objective verifiable criteria" has lead to a "tick-box culture" with all sense departed long ago?
----------------------- Complacency->Titanic->blame-shifting
You can see similar issues behind the Tay Bridge collapse. Deficient fabrication of the column castings and their bracing wasn't properly supervised or appreciated until too late. The bridge's designer had succumbed to excessive cost-cutting pressure. The responsible foundry foreman emigrated out of reach to Australia.
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"Contemporary documentaries claimed Carlisle retired in anger due to Pirrie not accepting his lifeboat recommendations, if his recommendations were accepted the overall death toll of the Titanic’s sinking would far lower."
Well, maybe. They didn't have enough time or deck hands to launch, row and steer all the lifeboats they did have, the last two floated off as the ship sank. The new and unfamiliar Welin davits which could handle extra lifeboats (if provided) may have contributed to the delay, as there are reports the crew fumbled with them.
That's the sort of management vs engineering dynamic I look for in accident investigations, and sometimes suffered from personally. The RMS Titanic and the space shuttle Challenger are classic examples. The booster that failed could have been fabricated locally in one piece but it was politically necessary to distribute the spending into every state, so they were sectioned into smaller sizes for shipment from Utah to Florida. Officially the riskier sectional design was chosen because it was cheaper. However ICBMs have one-piece casings.
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Here's a great example of arrogant incompetence:
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"Throughout the summer of 1960, minor landslides and earth movements were noticed. Instead of heeding these warning signs, the Italian government chose to sue the handful of journalists reporting the problems for "undermining the social order".
During WW1 Rommel's handful of troops raced down that valley on commandeered bicycles to keep the fleeing Italians ahead of them from having enough time to blow up a bridge. It's an incredible adventure story.
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He was brave enough to return after the war to take photos for the book.
Reply to
Jim Wilkins
I'm just going to say there is always more to the story. The thing is people generally gravitate to the easiest answer.
Tell a kid who got in trouble for fighting in school that its not ok to fight unless you have no choice they will ALWAYS say they had no choice. That's the easiest answer.
In my business people tell me they want a custom mold made, but then they have no idea what they want or they just want to knockoff somebody else. That's the easiest answer.
The other day I had a guy contact me who was all over the place with what he wanted. After going back and forth for a while I asked him, "Do you want me to just guess, design something up from scratch, let you try it on for size, and if you don't like take another guess and start over?"
He replied, "That would be great," instead of noticing I was dripping with sarcasm. That was the easiest answer.
People latch onto the easiest answer.
I don't have to do it today.
Somebody else will do it.
I called in sick that day.
You expect me to think about the job for a second on my day off?
We can blame it on the welder if the weld fails.
The painter will cover it up.
Don't worry about the spec not being adequate. Just do it and we will charge them for a change order and repairs later.
Tell the subs to "help us out" and fix it for free or we will get other subs.
Reply to
Bob La Londe
Thanks for cautionary note. You are saying "Don't look for a too clear picture - we all as humans succumb to easiest in-the-moment ways out" ?
Never-the-less - I have this perception continues: an organisation full of "health and safety officials" (sic.), "project managers", etc., cruising up to a final acceptance (rejection) inspection with no quality control at any stage of the project is "sub-optimal".
Reply to
Richard Smith
Thanks cautionary point see general human failing - don't expect a picture as clear as I seem to be seeking.
Interesting examples - as always, enlightening and broadening perception around the initial point.
I'll go in on just one - the Tay Bridge disaster.
As I understand it...
When the Tay Bridge was build, the engineer Bouch had only wood, cast-iron and wrought-iron to work with. Steel as in the Firth of Forth bridge was came after his time and made all the difference (?). He knew his bridge was only very marginally good enough. And did not know - because no-one else did either - that the wind loading allowance wasn't enough. Given what was strongly needed was not satisfactorily possible, the economically necessary bridge was with-limitations - one being the speed permitted going across that. And it seems custom-and-practice built-up to exceed / ignore those limits.
I gather that Bouch did what was necessary with what he had. The mind-test is - "Could a better solution have been produced (then; at that time)?" to which the clear answer is "No".
As I understand it...
Regards,
Reply to
Richard Smith
Thanks cautionary point see general human failing - don't expect a picture as clear as I seem to be seeking.
Interesting examples - as always, enlightening and broadening perception around the initial point.
I'll go in on just one - the Tay Bridge disaster.
As I understand it...
When the Tay Bridge was build, the engineer Bouch had only wood, cast-iron and wrought-iron to work with. Steel as in the Firth of Forth bridge was came after his time and made all the difference (?). He knew his bridge was only very marginally good enough. And did not know - because no-one else did either - that the wind loading allowance wasn't enough. Given what was strongly needed was not satisfactorily possible, the economically necessary bridge was with-limitations - one being the speed permitted going across that. And it seems custom-and-practice built-up to exceed / ignore those limits.
I gather that Bouch did what was necessary with what he had. The mind-test is - "Could a better solution have been produced (then; at that time)?" to which the clear answer is "No".
As I understand it...
Regards,
------------------------------
Bouch had designed and Gikes Wilson had built very durable wrought + cast iron bridges when not under such intense cost-cutting pressure from railway management.
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"It was completed in 1860 and was demolished in 1963."
Modern bridges may not last that long:
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The evidence suggests that the wind did not push the train into the uprights, which would have shredded the wooden carriages, or tilt the intact column assemblies off their marginal base attachment. It would have decreased the compression load on the upwind columns and increased it on the downwind columns, along with increasing the tension on half of the diagonals. The abundance of broken cast iron lugs found on the piers points to multiple (progressive?) tension failures of the diagonal cross bracing attachments, though if the holes had been properly cast undersized and then reamed instead of being left as-cast with conical draft (to remove the pattern) that concentrated the tension on one side they should have retained an adequate safety margin. Bouch's designated inspector was a mason who understood the supporting piers but was inadequately familiar with metal. Insufficient testing of the nature of the river bottom increased the cost of the piers and may have forced short-cuts elsewhere. The US Army calls that the 6 P's, Prior Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance.
It appears that evidence was damaged during recovery and lost during the Blitz, so the reason the columns collapsed nearly straight down may never be known. I suspect that "hammer blow" pounding from the loco's unbalanced drive links caused the bridge to deteriorate. That would have been the reason for the speed limit, since the vertical force increases as the square of speed.
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Piston and linkage fore/aft oscillation tends to make the loco vibrate sideways. The drive wheels can be over-balanced to minimize it at the cost of increasing the vertical oscillation, hammer blow, which is less objectionable to riders. Bridge painters noticed considerable vibration when a train passed over, possibly as much as 2".
The Tay bridge is a good example of management squeezing costs until something fails. Bouch had also designed a bridge over the Forth, which was abandoned after the Tay collapse.
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"By mid-1867 the NBR was nearly bankrupt, and all work on the Forth and Tay bridges was stopped."
Reply to
Jim Wilkins
............
Thanks cautionary point see general human failing - don't expect a picture as clear as I seem to be seeking.
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I think the pattern is that we learn from and don't repeat major mistakes, so the remaining problems are unusual accumulations of multiple small deficiencies that don't individually seem serious enough to pay to correct. In your case the substantial cost of a highly qualified, certified, in-process inspector may have been deemed unnecessary if the workers' skill is usually adequate to pass final test.
Would you take the job of telling other welders their work wasn't good enough?
My wife was an in-process visual inspector of electronic assemblies until she was promoted to programming and operating automated final test equipment, and not replaced.
I was the final test tech for a batch of prototype electric vehicle battery packs that had a higher than expected defect rate. For each defect the engineer and I had to choose between me or the production crew making the repair. Hopefully the production crew would learn from and not repeat mistakes, but they were mechanical assemblers with little knowledge of electricity and didn't understand why they were wrong, so usually I fixed the problem, faster than explaining everything to them and waiting for them to finish.
No one has ever bothered to inspect my work, they just assume it's good. I'm not that confident and double-check myself. Although I've been doing my own car and motorcycle repairs for 50 years I signed up for night classes in tune-ups and brakes to correct any bad habits I may have acquired.
Reply to
Jim Wilkins
The evidence suggests that the wind did not push the train into the uprights, which would have shredded the wooden carriages, or tilt the intact column assemblies off their marginal base attachment... ----------------------
Here is a reference for my statements.
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"Law concluded that the bridge as designed if perfect in execution would not have failed in the way seen(Cochrane went further; it 'would be standing now')."
The event amply supports your complaint about lack of in-process inspection. The foreman -should- do it but he is also responsible for staying on schedule and minimizing expenses, both of which are more visible to management than quality control. Add in a desperate customer on the verge of bankruptcy and not paying you, and it's understandable that a foreman or inspector would be driven to drink or flee to Australia.
"Burning-on" is repairing a defect by forming a sand mold around it and pouring in molten iron, hoping it melts into and bonds with the existing metal. Pattern edges are beveled or tapered (draft) so they won't break the sand of the mold when they are removed. Beaumont Egg (a corruption of French Beaumontage) is like Bondo, a cosmetic hole filler with no strength.
In Vermont there is a Lemon Fair river, a corruption of the French for The Green Mountains, Les Monts Verts.
Reply to
Jim Wilkins
Thanks for cautionary note. You are saying "Don't look for a too clear picture - we all as humans succumb to easiest in-the-moment ways out" ?
Never-the-less - I have this perception continues: an organisation full of "health and safety officials" (sic.), "project managers", etc., cruising up to a final acceptance (rejection) inspection with no quality control at any stage of the project is "sub-optimal".
---------------------
Here is another example of insufficient supervision.
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I attended a Mensa lecture by one of the investigators, who also described why our early rockets failed.
The initial design had the core area of the one-piece rods supporting all levels, and the external threads supporting only one. IIRC the fabricator didn't have a lathe with enough end clearance to turn down or thread the entire length of the rods so he divided them without considering that now the threads and nuts suspending the upper level would bear all of the load.
Notice that the welded channel box beams failed because the welds were weaker than the rest of the channel.
Reply to
Jim Wilkins
Hi Jim, everyone
I in general have to defer to your obviously well exercised experience.
On one conceptual point though, I will come back making another case.
It's this point: " In your case the substantial cost of a highly qualified, certified, in-process inspector may have been deemed unnecessary if the workers' skill is usually adequate to pass final test. "
I believe I can offer a depth of experience on this.
Ruefully, in one instance where I was "winding-up" someone, I was horrified perceiving I'd overdone it when his face turned dark red and the blood-vessels bulged on his temples as he curled up in a squeal while absorbing in the visualised and mimed act of strangling me. The physical transformation was like something in a science-fiction horror movie - in any other situation you'd need "CGI" to get the effect.
This related to identically the topic area you mention - quality control and cost.
Your "in-house" tests do not have to be certified, calibrated, conform to any Specification (apart from your own), Standards, Codes, etc. These external things which cost wheelbarrow-loads of money you only do when you know what the answer will be.
This is where I have been effective, and where there was this dreadful moment I looked on in horror at.
Your in-house analyses - tests, inspection methods, data analysis, whatever... - these only need to be effective. They don't need to conform to anything external or to anything anyone else says. So long as they get to the nub of the issue. No-one even needs to know you are doing them. Only significant matter is you know you are on a trajectory to passing the final acceptance evaluation.
This is where others "get it wrong".
At every juncture they reach for Standards, Procedures, etc.
This is what happened to the bulging throbbing blood vessels in his temples guy.
For three days I'd been saying airily things like "Nah, you're trying to run before you can walk!" and other even worse apparent trivia - given they were massively experienced and I was a "newbie" in that industry. They were just being indulgent - or so it seemed to them.
By the third day, they were seeing it was going to cost millions of GB Pounds (US Dollars) to get just one result.
They were drifting twoards this realisation when I passed behind this guy and he was looking at at drawing and I "elatedly" pointed over his shoulder and cheerfully exclaimed "That is what I was telling you to do!".
I had been saying make a plate mockup - say a metre long - representing the "worst" part of a tubular node and do what the **** you like with it, getting a feel for what the inspection methods can and cannot do. Arm yourself with a rich multi-dimensional insight into the properties of the inspection methods. All costing 2/10ths of ****-all to acquire.
This is a repeated pattern in my work.
You mention something - the proceduralist desk-bound "in-tray / out-tray" "engineers" instinctively reach for the Standard(s) and proclaim - that must conform to OSI54321 - Procedure 123.456 applies where we do y - driv. - more driv. - driv. again - etc.
Example - make it real what's been talked about here...
On a project everyone was talking about carbon pickup and Air Arc Gouging. Requirements (Standards, Specifications); acceptance criteria; laboratory type tests.
I asked the nearest welding, in their local language, if I could borrow his angle-grinder and "sparked" the plate and "sparked" the gouged groove where the prior weld had been removed. ["sparking" - the trail of sparks from grinding a steel gives a lot of information about composition - of which carbon is the one which really really really shows] The Air Arc Gouged groove was like a children's "sparkler" like we (used to?) wave around at bonfire night - bright and sparkling liek mad. Then from "sparking" - a light touch - I gripped the angle-grinder and ground the gouge, leaving silver metal. then released the pressure and went back to "sparking" and there was the same low-carbon spark trail as for the plate - I alternated back and forth between plate and positions up the groove where I had ground in 30 seconds and the spark trails were identical.
Answers... In-house, we allow no carbon pick-up on what we weld Don't ****-around - we can "spark" this anywhere at any time and anyone not meeting our internal specification is off the job and out We trust you all, and you know we know what we are doing. Thanks guys - please continue...
This has been right through my career.
With the example leading to my "crock of ****" "ray of light on the road to Damascus" moment - I was thinking of exactly this - **** what anyone else says - in-house we hold the industrial process tight and ride it down the centre of the twisty and narrow road. Doing whatever we feel like which works and costs little which keeps us on that journey.
Eg. with Aluminium/Aluminum - haven't tried it, but as demonstrated, thanks YouTube and Jody, oven-cleaner spray is a perfectly satisfactory etchant for Aluminium. Which makes sense seeing as oven cleaners tend to be based on an alkali which saponifies (turns into soap) grease in the over - and as Al is amphoteric (it dissolves in both acids and alkalis) you can see why this works.
In-house you couldn't give a flying **** what the Standards say the etchant used should be. So long as what you do works for your in-house monitoring. The costs are typically something like a thousandth to a millionth of the cost of the "accredited" method(s).
This fluency I have in my day-to-day work I am totally amazed to find is often completely unknown-of in workplaces I walk into.
Well, okay, I worked for a foundry which has its own x-ray bunker, and again, there was the concept of not a flying **** to be found anywhere because they were using it for-information-only. ie. all and every acceptance test if x-ray was subcontracted to an "accredited" Non-Destructive Testing laboratory, in zero correlation to them having their own x-ray bunker.
Wow! That was a good rant... :-)
Hopefully there is some sense to be seen in the point I humbly (?!!) submit to make?
Final larf - bid follow by a smart project leader, he lead me into a part of their facility which had nothing to do with the project I was working on. When credulity was already under strain, he then gestured for me to duck and proceeded bent-over under a rusty framework and grating. In the middle of whose expanse was a little ladder - which took me up into a a fully-functioning welding test facility, concealed in the volume of a large apparently abandoned piece of equipment. It was like something out of a "James Bond" movie :-) There were double-figures of welders and technicians working there, under suspended lights on chains illuminating its concealed space. I could see big test weldments which I recognised as matching parts of the project I was the representative for. It was explained that everyone else was so zealous about invoking "OSI54321", etc. (yes, I had more than see that to be the case) that they kept this facility secret so they could develop their manufacturing techniques unimpeded. So - I am not entirely alone in the perception I lay out before you.
With warmest best wishes, Rich S
Reply to
Richard Smith
This is where others "get it wrong".
At every juncture they reach for Standards, Procedures, etc.
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This drives the paper-pushing approach:
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When I had to learn ISO-9001 compliance I interpreted it as a crutch and alibi to protect management.
Reply to
Jim Wilkins
......... Example - make it real what's been talked about here...
On a project everyone was talking about carbon pickup and Air Arc Gouging. Requirements (Standards, Specifications); acceptance criteria; laboratory type tests.
I asked the nearest welding, in their local language, if I could borrow his angle-grinder and "sparked" the plate and "sparked" the gouged groove where the prior weld had been removed. ["sparking" - the trail of sparks from grinding a steel gives a lot of information about composition - of which carbon is the one which really really really shows] The Air Arc Gouged groove was like a children's "sparkler" like we (used to?) wave around at bonfire night - bright and sparkling liek mad. Then from "sparking" - a light touch - I gripped the angle-grinder and ground the gouge, leaving silver metal. then released the pressure and went back to "sparking" and there was the same low-carbon spark trail as for the plate - I alternated back and forth between plate and positions up the groove where I had ground in 30 seconds and the spark trails were identical.
Answers... In-house, we allow no carbon pick-up on what we weld Don't ****-around - we can "spark" this anywhere at any time and anyone not meeting our internal specification is off the job and out We trust you all, and you know we know what we are doing. Thanks guys - please continue...
This has been right through my career. -------------------
The problem with your Master Craftsman approach is that it leaves with you, unwritten judgmental skills don't become a permanent part of corporate memory. Understanding them and also being able to clearly record them is a rare right+left brain skill and the reason I write and post so much here, for practice.
The techniques of expert craftsmanship are evident in relics older than 1000BC, yet they weren't permanently written down until relatively recently.
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It's really difficult to pretend that you don't know what you do, so you can explain the right things to a beginner. When I was building theatre scenery I practiced walking out into the auditorium and trying to view the set as if for the first time, and detect any negative first impressions.
The Cats movie is a good example, I bought the DVD after its price fell and found that the creepy horror-show initial impressions vanished upon seeing it again. I'm sure those who worked on the CGI became too familiar to catch the first-glance snake and spider visuals. I don't see them any more and can enjoy the fine performances.
Reply to
Jim Wilkins
To some degree yes.
Me: I don't want to get into a deep conversation so I'll throw out some platitudes.
You: I want somebody to voluntarily go above and beyond the normal human condition and set real engineered standards rather than stepping up myself and asking for them.
Your boss: (maybe your boss's boss) Ignore the fact that their is no real engineered spec. We will charge them to fix it later.
Unfortunately that is atleast the part the fault of government. Unfortunately with a focus on short term safety (yours) they ignore a need for long term safety (mine when I drive over the bridge you built). It may also be a function of liability and cost. How much will it cost your company if I drive over your bridge and die, vs how much it will cost to hire a real engineering team. I'm half way talented and skilled so it will cost a pretty penny (atleast in the states) if negligence kills me, but that's a one time payout that might not happen. A real engineering team checking everything and setting real quality standards is a constant drain on company resources.
Reply to
Bob La Londe
A real engineering team checking everything and setting real quality standards is a constant drain on company resources.
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When I was testing and repairing field-return medical equipment Lithium batteries with internal datalogs I noticed that the attention span for managing them the prescribed way instead of the easy way was typically about 3 months, hardly ever as long as 6. Company safety or QC campaigns after an incident lasted a similar interval before being quietly forgotten.
Reply to
Jim Wilkins
W. Edwards Deming said something which I strongly recognise "If you concentrate on costs, your costs will tend to rise. If you concentrate on quality, your costs will tend to fall"
Starting my working career in the steel industry in Sheffield in the early 1980's, these were the survivors of 9 in 10 in the region losing their jobs - so those left were very wise. They knew that the tranquility you see - being able to take tea-breaks and discuss things at leisure - was because you kept variables under tight control. They knew that if you do not know what's going on and lose control of processes, it would be the equivalent of your ship crashing into an iceberg - "things would take a bad turn" (understatement). That's not saying that these folk did not take tough decisions. Some of the actions and interventions to leave no easier option that to move to new operating methods were amazing for their calculated almost brutality. eg. a furnace needed for "the established method" could be demolished over the weekend and coming back the next week there was no choice but to make the new cheaper production route work.
Unfortunately for me, that was *not* the world I moved onwards in. I learned and took all onboard - absorbing the wisdom - and found I was now like some lone lunatic in the wilderness in a nation where people are payed for doing nothing (German limosines driven by people whose "contribution to the economy" is a miniscular proportion of that "capable" foreign mechandise they are rewarded with).
Where I get a chance to work and apply my skills, I make sure that what ships from the loading bay gets follow-up custom.
I can see what you say - but it's a muddy confused world without purpose, navigation, direction, goals, self-belief, etc. You are realistically describing the reality; I'm knowing that isn't you.
Reply to
Richard Smith
W. Edwards Deming said something which I strongly recognise "If you concentrate on costs, your costs will tend to rise. If you concentrate on quality, your costs will tend to fall"
Starting my working career in the steel industry in Sheffield in the early 1980's, these were the survivors of 9 in 10 in the region losing their jobs - so those left were very wise. They knew that the tranquility you see - being able to take tea-breaks and discuss things at leisure - was because you kept variables under tight control. They knew that if you do not know what's going on and lose control of processes, it would be the equivalent of your ship crashing into an iceberg - "things would take a bad turn" (understatement). That's not saying that these folk did not take tough decisions. Some of the actions and interventions to leave no easier option that to move to new operating methods were amazing for their calculated almost brutality. eg. a furnace needed for "the established method" could be demolished over the weekend and coming back the next week there was no choice but to make the new cheaper production route work.
Unfortunately for me, that was *not* the world I moved onwards in. I learned and took all onboard - absorbing the wisdom - and found I was now like some lone lunatic in the wilderness in a nation where people are payed for doing nothing (German limosines driven by people whose "contribution to the economy" is a miniscular proportion of that "capable" foreign mechandise they are rewarded with).
Where I get a chance to work and apply my skills, I make sure that what ships from the loading bay gets follow-up custom.
I can see what you say - but it's a muddy confused world without purpose, navigation, direction, goals, self-belief, etc. You are realistically describing the reality; I'm knowing that isn't you.
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One of the models I apply to understand and predict human behaviour is that the less capable a person is, the harder they try to increase their self-esteem in sometimes irrational ways, such as the zero-sum demeaning of others or conspicuous consumption. I found it much easier to convince a Ph.D. that I had a good idea than a workman who clung defensively to what little he knew.
Reply to
Jim Wilkins
I was an employer for more than a couple years. I was terrible at it. I expected people to have some pride in workmanship and expect approval when they truly deserved it. After struggling with this one day a technician for another company told me I was deluded. That technicians wanted to get paid the most amount of money possible for the least amount of effort period. I thought he was mistaken or perhaps overly cynical. I kept trying for many years. Still I often found myself working late and weekends so I could finish the jobs others didn't do, and do extra work on top so I could afford to pay them for the time they spent not getting it done. I was making some small progress, but often it seemed like it was one step forward and two steps back.
The year I had a bad accident on a motorcycle things changed. I was taking phone calls, and working on my computer from a hospital bed when I wasn't to doped up on morphine. I had a couple guys and I was trying to keep getting things done, but it wasn't working. When they put my morphine on manual only when I pushed the button I quit taking it preferring to be clear headed and uncomfortable than stupid in a drug fog. When I got out I found myself almost broke with maxed out credit cards and customers screaming at me to get jobs done. My employees were gone. My doctor tried to put me on an anti depressant because it was bad, but I hated the lack of drive from the drug worse than the constantly angry buzz arguing with the sad drone in my head.
I was in a wheel chair. I could stand with a leg brace. I had a titanium rod and 4 titanium pins in my leg, but they couldn't rebuild my foot. They didn't want me to walk on my foot until it healed. It was still a maraca inside. There were still pins sticking out of my hand. I couldn't even begin to drive my service truck. I knew I couldn't do any real jobs, but I at least had to get service calls done. I put a sidecar on my backup motorcycle to carry my wheel chair, and put a tool bag in the trunk. I could drive the side hack, but I couldn't operate the foot brake. I did service calls.
I was a bit surprised when I rolled into a sleep study lab in my wheel chair to fix a video system, and they were still nasty with me that it took a full day for me to get there to take care of them. They had somebody in their office who kept unplugging a monitor and then plugging the camera input into the loop output. I tried to show them and every time they just got angry with me and said it was a crappy system. It wasn't. I had the same system in other sleep study labs with no issues. I think a technician was sleeping in the room at night instead of watching the monitors, and they were unplugging the camera and plugging it back in when they woke up. I was glad when they said they were going to get somebody else.
When I rolled into the office of another customer who had been screaming at me on the phone it brought back a small amount of belief in the human condition for me. I had never seen a Mexican turn white before. He probably really thought I was the average technicians and I had been lying to him about being in the hospital to cover for not taking care of the low battery on his alarm system. Of course his alarm panel was above his office with ladder only access. I had to figure out how to climb the service ladder with one functional leg, and one that wouldn't bend. I did it, but I don't have as much upper body strength as I thought I did. At least not configured the right way for that job.
I was nearly broke and didn't know how I could afford to have employees if I couldn't work at my usual level. I chose not to have any. I took only jobs I could handle by myself or later with day laborers if I just needed an extra set of hands. That year I was pretty miserable, but I made more money working by myself than I had ever made before in my life. That was only a small surprise. The story tells I have some drive and ambition. I couldn't work as hard as I used to, and by mid afternoon I was exhausted so I couldn't work as long as I used to either. I started taking weekends off, because I needed to recover from pushing myself all week, and I didn't need to work so I could afford to pay somebody who wasn't. I was working far fewer hours and making more money than I ever had before. I never had employees ever again, and I tried very hard to make sure my company was never dependent on any one other person or company.
My critique of the average person who works for a wage is not cynical. It was beaten into me by hard won experience.
Reply to
Bob La Londe
I say I made several million dollars in the first 20 years of my working life, but almost oll of it went into the pockets of numerous bosses. I worked my ass off for very little thanks and not much more money. For 10 of those years I had people "working for me" (Some, in reality were actually WORKING but there were others who, at least for a short time, just collected pay cheques.) Finally after a "contract dispute" with an idiot I was working for I decided if I was going to work for an idiot it was going to be for one I liked and had respect for. For the last 29 years I have worked about half as hard for the same money, taken real holidays (more than a week at a time) for the first time in my life, and have had time to enjoy life.
I didn't get rich (Thanks to the ridiculous increase in property values I now have a net value in excess of a million dollars - but a million isn't anywhere CLOSE to what it used to be!!!!!) but I really LIKE my boss!!!!!
Reply to
Clare Snyder

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