More Weird Engineers I’ve Known

While working in South Carolina, a guy from Houston transferred into my group. I learned quite a bit from this guy. Not anything I’d ever use, more like what to avoid.

Phillips was about my age and had some kind of desire to do a business on the side. He promptly pinned a sheet of copy paper with the initials ‘OPM’ in black letters to the bulletin board over his desk. (For you young ‘uns, that would be a framed piece of cork into which you used a thumbtack or push pin to hang pieces of paper with various pieces of information printed on them, too precious to throw away.  Paper? That stuff that comes out of the copy machine or printer.)

OPM? We figured it meant Other People’s Money; the mantra of the 1980’s preceding Suze Orman. The only way to get rich was to use OPM. He had big dreams for personal financial success. Too bad he had to have a real job in the meantime.

The office included desks for the new guy, John and me. John and I had worked together for a few years by the time this guy was hired. In fact his predecessor had been walked out the door one Friday afternoon, after John and I had gone home. We came to work Monday to find his desk cleaned out, the bulletin board empty and management sharing very little information about this guy’s demise.

John and I went about our day when the phone rang at the vacant desk. John answered and talked for a bit. He hung up, looked at me and said it was the guy’s wife. She was just calling to see how his day was going, her husband’s day, not John’s. Awhile later, the guy called John to ask him to cover for him ‘if’ his wife called. Too late, Ace, that already happened.

I couldn’t believe this guy had been fired, spent the weekend with his family and then pretended to go to work Monday morning.  What was he thinking? It’s true what the comedians say: There’s no fixing stupid. And that reminds me, back to the new guy.

So we ‘experienced’ Phillips: his long talks on the phone, obviously not business related, his numerous doctor appointments during the middle of the day. I worked through my entire first pregnancy and every doctor appointment was scheduled after work hours. He seemed to be healthy enough, so we began to wonder if he was really going to see the doctor.

I returned to our office one day and John met me in the doorway. “You won’t believe it.” I could tell he’d been waiting for me to get back for some time. “Phillips puked!” That’s right, just when I thought I’d seen it all with this guy, he got sick and instead of being a big boy and doing his business in the restroom, just down the hall, he vomited in the office trashcan. Thank goodness I was in another building. Fortunately the clean up was complete, including any lingering odors, by the time I arrived.

His work wasn’t spectacular, but he did do his own projects without expecting us to help him out. That was probably his fatal flaw: his inability to work with anyone.

Phillips’ was a poor performer, and a poor engineer. We suffered through the couple of years he worked there. Then one Monday morning…


About stemzandroses

I'm an engineer and writer with a built-in need to share my nearly 40 years of experience working in a male-dominated field with the rest of the world.
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