The Dim, the Gullible, and Cheap Sunglasses
Sep 1, 2002 12:00 PM, By Steve Filipini
I LOVED TRAINING new technicians. One of my favorite trainees was Noid, who learned a lot in the few weeks we worked together. Most of it was true, and some of it wasn't. Whatever the case, Noid couldn't tell the difference.
Wherever I went, I had a pair of sunglasses perched atop my head (nothing has changed, actually). The lenses I preferred were of the reflective type, which allowed full eyeball liberty without being caught when admiring a member of the opposite sex. We were at a manufacturing business when I instructed Noid to purchase a pair of sunglasses like mine. In the meantime, he could borrow an old scratched-up pair I had in the truck.
I told him that he needed the sunglasses because the control panels we worked on emitted RF radiation, which is why the panels were mounted in metal enclosures. Without the sunglasses, he ran the risk of burning out his retinas. To prove my point, I always donned my sunglasses when he was next to me while I worked on a control panel. Convinced, he bought a pair that night. Most of the field technicians wore sunglasses anyway, so no one thought anything about it. When he complained that he couldn't see inside the control panel clearly, I gave him a flashlight.
Next, I taught him the wonders of magnetic conductance and how it applied to our line of work. “All electricity radiates a magnetic field,” I said. “That magnetic field is the source of energy that powers our devices. We use shielded cable to contain the field and to prevent power leakage.” Noid ate it up. I then demonstrated the proper way to detect field leakage by setting the meter to the correct setting (it really didn't matter which setting I used; the results were the same). I instructed him to place the red meter probe on a wire splice, and the black meter probe was to be held out at arm's length, high and away from the body to properly measure the field emissions. If he happened to be working near an open control panel, the sunglasses would also need to be on. If the meter fluctuated at all, he was to wrap the splice in black electrical tape designed to contain the magnetic conductance field. I kept that “expensive” tape (which was no different from any other roll) separate from the other rolls on the truck to ensure it was used only when leaks were detected. Of course, I always followed that advice when he was in the same room.
As time went on, Noid started to believe his eyesight was deteriorating as a result of the service calls. The quality of the sunglasses is directly proportional to the level of protection, I said. Noid went out that afternoon and purchased a more expensive pair. When he did that, I let him conduct the service calls on his own.
Customers would stare at Noid while he performed my “routine” maintenance, and they would ask me if he took special medication. I would shake my head and explain that he was the boss's son — and tolerance meant promotions.
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