While working as an electronics technician at a defense electronics company back in my pre-engineer days (I was going to school at night), part of my job was to assist the assembly workers with issues concerning written instructions, problems with drawings, malfunctioning equipment, test conundrums, etc., for everything from cable harnesses to printed circuits and entire assemblies. Although it could be boring at times, the job did provide some challenges. A couple of the other techs in the area were former military guys like me, and they were pretty sharp. The Navy tar had serviced equipment at sea and was very adept at solving problems. One day, however, he and I were talking at the beginning of the shift while he was wetting the sponge for his soldering station. The water bottle was one of the plastic kind that has a feed tube molded in at the bottom and it came up and hooked over into a thin nozzle. After a while, the guy suddenly stopped what he was saying and remarked in exasperation how sick he was of having to take so long each time to soak the sponge (it was a big sponge for a big iron). I held out my hand to gesture for his bottle. Thinking I was probably just going to squeeze more water out the nozzle, he was surprised and embarrassed when I simply unscrewed the top, poured enough water to saturate the sponge in less than a second, and then reattached the top. After getting a disconcerting look from him, I wondered whether I had just thrown down the figurative gauntlet to inspire a knock-down-drag-out Navy vs. Air Force scuffle. Thankfully, his scowl turned into a smile and we both had a good laugh.
- Kirt Blattenberger
Posted July 7, 2014