Friday, April 16, 2004

Modern Education, Female Engineers, and Lock Washers

Anyone who's ever worked in manufacturing knows that mechanics and engineers just don't like each other. This is a classic battle of someone who knows all the theory, and no application, versus someone who knows tons of application, but no theory. You have tension because the engineers are constantly pushed to make the machines run better, and the mechanics who know that have worked on the same machines for decades, who have seen 10 different engineers try 50 different new ideas, that have all resulted in massive down time.

Generous Electric has a plant in Lexington Kentucky. Like most plants the mechanics there are a surely lot who spend most of their time watching machines work properly, and a small amount of time bitching about engineers. A new female engineer had recently been hired, fresh out of UK. Wet-behind-the-ears would be to kind a description. Like virtually all female professionals her first goal was not to avoid screwing up until she could learn the ropes, it was to show her co-workers that she wasn't gonna take any shit. I'm sure large universities have a course in this. Bitch 201.

Now you should know that each mechanic at this particular plant has a standard tool box, that they keep in order and maintain. Mechanics tend to be proud, and touchy about their toolboxes, so be warned. Anyway, in true bitch fashion our hero took it upon herself to walk around and inspect the various tool boxes of the mechanics.

She walked up to one old curmudgen's box, opened a drawer, and said something that was just to good to be true. She said, "What is this garbage? All of these washers are broken! Why are you keeping broken washers in your toolbox?"

He smiled and said, "Because I happen to like broken washers. Why don't you write me up for that? In fact, I dare you to write me up for it. You ain't got the guts."

So... of course... she wrote him up for having "Broken Washers" in his tool box.

The GE plant in Lexington Kentucky doesn't hire graduates of the UK department of engineering anymore. And as for the girl, well, no one knows if that girl has ever taken the time to learn what a lockwasher is.

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