There’s this bloke…

I have to offload a little about my work colleague.

But first some context. I am an engineer, a maintenance engineer to be specific. I deal with electrical equipment, refrigeration systems, some computer equipment and some fabrication work too. It’s very ‘general’ engineering, a bit of everything and that’s why I love it. I work for a large company that ranks about 1 on the moral scale from 0-10, 10 being the most moral and pious. I won’t divulge the name because I’m not mega-proud of their work.

But morals don’t pay the bills these days, and I spent years of worthy objection to the industry that now pays my mortgage. The irony is sort of ‘cute’ to me now.

Anyway, in my job I work with another guy, Bill we’ll call him for these purposes. Bill has worked in this place for 37 years, and it shows. He’s the fix-it guy for the whole factory and his knowledge is ‘next level’. As a hint at how geeky he is, he told me used to do a lot of home programming on computers. Coding we call it now, I used to know a few guys who got into it early on, most of them starting off with Spectrums or Commodores in the early 80’s. Bill was doing it in the mid 70’s. I literally have no idea how he did this because home computers were the stuff of a mad mans dreams in the mid 70’s.

So, he’s 61 now and he’ll be retiring soon and they’ve taken me on to learn from him and to take over the mantle. Huge responsibility and loads to learn. Good job I have Bill then, coz he knows everything. Except he’s Dyslexic, probably on the spectrum and possibly Bi-polar too. They’re all challenges to deal with but interestingly it’s the Dyslexia that frustrates me the most. You see, engineering is about problem solving and one of the key tools to aid you in that is terminology. If a bolt is loose, you need to be clear about what size it is, what tool you need etc. If a pipe needs replacing you need to know what size, what kind of pipe and so on, you need to identify things precisely. A flange is a flange and a knurling is a knurling. They are not the same and knowing the difference saves a lot of time and energy for everyone. But Bill, he’s not too hot on terminology. In fact he almost never uses it.

We’ll be working in an area with approx 30 pipes of varying sizes and about 200 joins of several types and he’ll say “Check that bit of pipe is tight” pointing vaguely at the birds-nest of copper tubing and connectors. That’s very frustrating but he’s not discriminatory, he does it all the time.

The other week, he said to me: “You have to be careful that that is done up tight otherwise… thing.” And promptly walks away, never to reveal what ‘thing’ means. You see, he’s getting a bit foggy minded too. On top of everything else.

He has several immersive hobbies outside of his complex work including Archaeology, Amateur Radio, Chess and Dowsing too. He has an immensely deep knowledge of all of these disciplines  and he loves to chat about them. But he’ll spring from a detailed description of a crucial part of our job that I actually do need to know, into a lengthy speech about how he prefers to dig his trenches with a Mattock rather than a trowel as most archaeologists do, without a spare breath. Sometimes it’s a few minutes before I realise that I don’t need to be trying to remember what he’s saying because he’s veered off into another subject. He talks a lot. A whole lot. Did I mention that he repeats himself?


Also, he has a little problem that he has to talk about quite a lot. It’s his wife.

You see, she appears to be utterly mental. Medical diagnosis is Thyroid Depression. My guess is a bit of this has rubbed off on him. It’s no surprise that the other people who work around him have had enough of his blethering on, and have almost no tolerance for it. But I’ve only been there for 6 months and they’ve basically said to me “Off you go, follow him around and learn everything. Byeee!”

I’m hanging in there, even though we sit face to face on our downtime, there are no windows in the area we work in and I am nowhere near completing my learning just yet.

Some days it feels like all I’ve learned is how not to stab somebody who is annoying on several levels, but I suppose that’s a skill that is almost as useful as Engineering.