Unfiltered Story #192952

, , | Unfiltered | April 29, 2020

As part of their induction in the profession, Professional engineers in Canada are awarded a ring. This special ring looks like a nut and is worn on the pinky of their dominant hand (usually the right). This means the ring easily snags on things during the day. It is meant to remind them of their duties as engineers.
For us at the big orange box home improvement store, it served as a warning. If you saw one, you knew you were in for stupid questions wrapped up in ego.
I worked in plumbing. Every time someone with a ring approached me, I was in for a treat.
Once, three young ring-bearers walked up to me, one carrying part of a p-trap. One of the components of the part they held was cracked (you will agree that cracks are never good in plumbing). The first two explained that this part was broken, and could I help find a replacement.
“Ah, yes, I see. it comes as a complete assembly. You’ll have to replace the whole thing.” I said. I explained it only cost a couple of dollars and was easy to replace.
The third argued “It doesn’t need replacing – it’s not broken”
“Yes it is. The nut is cracked. It no longer seals. You need another”, and I showed the other two how to replace it.
“No it’s not broken” he continued.
“Yes it is”
“No, it’s not”
I continued to politely try to explain that when one part of the fitting is broken, the whole assembly needs to be replaced. He insisted it wasn’t broken. This carried on a while longer. While I explained to the two what to do, the third would cut in objecting the fitting wasn’t broken.
Finally, I put an end to the discussion: “If it wasn’t broken, you wouldn’t be here”.
His buddies agreed, and they all left with their replacement parts.
Another time, two customers were building a complicated mess of elbows, connectors and drain pipe. One was explaining to the other how this particular arrangement was meant to come together. I spotted the ring on his pinkie and decided to stand quietly to the side listening as they carried on.
Finally, the engineer finished with flourish: “and that’s how it all comes together”.
I quietly asked if he was sure.
“Of course. I’m an engineer”, he said proudly.
That’s when I pointed out that his contraption meant drain water would need to run six inches uphill over a course of three feet.
In the silence that followed, I quickly pulled most of the parts out the contraption and reassembled the drain so that water would drain properly. I quietly handed it back and asked if they needed anything else.