Monday, September 5, 2011

When Hard Working And Stupid Is Worse Than Just Being Stupid.


I'm standing by the truck while I watch my colleague chuck pieces of cable halfway down our truck into a large bin; each one each one making a loud noise as it lands.


"Shouldn't you be helping him?" the driver of our truck asks me as I just stand there, staring while my co-worker do all the work.


Another fifty pound coil hits the pile.

I shake my head. "No. He can be the hero if he wants to."

It was the end of the night and like all normal people, we all wanted to just finish packing up the truck and get the hell out of there. But standing between us and the road home was a line of carts waiting to be strapped down and that pile of cable that needed to be put away.

Unfortunately, one of the guys was having an issue with a ratchet strap, causing a line of carts to block the bin of cable, preventing us from any easy access to it.

So instead of doing the smart thing and waiting until we could actually get to the bin, this guy decided to hurl the unruely cable over all the obstacles instead.

Did this get the job done? Sure.
Did this get us home maybe a minute or two faster? Maybe.
Was the a stupid thing to do? Definitely.

One of the clich├ęs you hear in our line of work time and time again is "Work smarter, not harder." It's generally the working hard part, the physical labor of it all, that eventually leads to juicers and grips complaining about various aches, pains and bad joints in their 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond (that is, if you don't injure yourself right then and there). You won't feel it today, but it'll all catch up with you eventually.

Another reason why what he's doing is stupid is because of the way it makes the rest of us look. To anyone passing by (like our driver just demonstrated), this ape is the "hard worker." The "hero." He's the only one doing any real labor while the rest of us just stand around and watch.

Our only option in this situation is to either join in on the stupidity and end up injuring ourselves, or accept that we're being labeled as "lazy." It's a lose-lose situation.

And further more, while I like to think that I bring many skills to the table (alertness, technical knowledge, perfect size to fit into tight spaces, ability to provide general amusement...), I'm the first to admit that brute strength is not one of them. So if hurling that cable fifteen feet has got this guy grunting and sweating, imagine how much harder it'd be for someone less than half his size to do the same thing.

If he's in such a hurry to leave that staying an extra couple of minutes because of stalled carts was such a nuisance, I would've gladly dove right in and given him a hand once the pathway to the bin was cleared. Hell, I probably wouldn't have complained if I was left to do it all on my own while he went home.


But to handle it the way he was?


Fuck that. He can give me all the dirty looks he wants for not "helping" him (and believe me, he was). He can talk shit about how I'm not a "team player" to whoever (I'm sure he has). People passing by can praise him for his "hard work" and condemn me for just standing around if they so please (and they are).

But I'm not joining in on the stupid.


Niall said...

I say you did the right thing. I'd have done the same. Don't cut off your feet to take your shoes off. Simple rule I live by.

The Karmic thing is he'll get blamed for the shitty condition the cable will be in the next day when you all have to roll it out of the truck. Throwing cable like that will tangle the whole lot into a giant ball of copper. That'll take forever to deal with later. Bad trade of time.

Work like a technician not a paid hand.

Ed (sloweddi) said...

We always stressed that in the service (weather equip. repair) as stupid usually equaled injured/dead. Usually it was turning on a piece of machinery when some one was working on it at a remote site. As a "reward" we would have them haul the tool bag or the boxes of replacement paper up the control tower by taking the stairs. :)

A.J. said...

Niall - The cable was tied well enough that nothing got tangled. But he could have just as easily been throwing around cable crossovers or ball busters. The point is that no one should be throwing anything around like that, especially if the problem will solve itself if the guy would've waited a few minutes.

"Work like a technician" is definitely a good rule. I like it.

Ed - Yikes! Doesn't that kinda punish the stupid by having them work hard while doing something stupid? (I hope that made as much sense as I think I did.)

Ed (sloweddi) said...

They usually only made the mistake once. We had one fella who we had to transfer out. Even though we had all the safety signs up and all the power disconnected, and a really big sign right in front of everything saying "do Not touch. Tech in Antenna", he went and connected up everything and fired up the array. Fortunately the tech was at the hatch and exited safely. Because one side of the antenna is relatively safe, the other side is a giant microwave oven.

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