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Always Listen To The Sam

, , , , , , , , | Working | February 8, 2023

I am a female engineer with a fairly androgynous name; let’s call me “Sam”. After twenty years with the same company, I leave to work for a startup. Two years later, the startup fails. My old boss hears I’m looking for work and offers me a job.

My first day back is interesting. A recent hire comes to ask a question. We’ll call him [New Guy].

New Guy: “I don’t know why, but my boss told me to ask you if we have [obscure piece of equipment].”

Me: “We do. Let me show you. Don’t forget to dry your sample before running the instrument. It will catch fire if it runs with a wet sample.”

New Guy: “Wow! Thanks. I didn’t understand why he told me to ask you, but I guess it’s your name.”

Me: “My name?”

New Guy: “Yeah, before I started here, there was a guy named Sam. He knew everything because he had been here so long. For a long time, people kept saying how much they missed him. I heard he’s coming back, so we’ll have two Sams.”

Me: “I am Sam.”

New Guy: “Yeah, but this is Sam. He knows everything.”

Due to circumstances, my boss and I need to leave the building. That leaves [New Guy] alone, which should be fine.

I return to find the building filled with smoke, the doors open, alarms blaring, and [New Guy] standing in the parking lot with the local fire chief.

Me: “What happened?”

New Guy: “I started running my sample and it started to smoke. I unplugged it, but it was still burning, so I pulled the alarm and ran outside.”

I quickly confer with the chief, don the appropriate breathing apparatus, and run inside to grab the equipment. We drag it into the middle of the parking lot and disable the alarm.

New Guy: “Wow! When Sam gets here, he’s going to be impressed. That sounds like something he would do.”

Me: “Again, I am Sam. I used to work here and came back.”

New Guy: “No, this is a different Sam.”

I give up and deal with the fire chief. The engines arrive and begin to air out the building. My boss returns from his meeting as they are removing the fans.

Boss: “What happened?”

Me: “Looks like [New Guy] didn’t dry the sample enough, and the equipment overheated and caught fire.”

New Guy: “And this Sam dragged the equipment into the parking lot. Wait until the Sam hears.”

Boss: “This is Sam.”

New Guy: “But she’s a girl.”

And that’s how [New Guy] ended up talking to Human Resources and Safety at the same time.

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