I've been posting a weekly narrative about work throughout October- I covered the persistent visitor and the hapless temp, now it's time to write about the overzealous valet who threw a monkey wrench into my workday last Friday and the competent troubleshooter who unfucked the fuckup.
Because we have an influx of visitors for our fall fundraisers, the organization for which I work rents out additional parking at a site adjacent to our "campus". The huge lot is not properly lighted, so we rent a couple of light towers, similar to those you would see at the side of the highway when nighttime construction is underway. The units incorporate a diesel generator, and a "tree" with four powerful lamps sitting in for the fruit. Right before sundown, I hightail it to the "satellite" lot and fire up the units. Turning on the units is simpler than brewing coffee in a typical drip coffee maker, but one must activate the units in a particular order- first one has to turn on the diesel generator (which has an ignition key similar to that in an automobile), then one turns on the 240 volt circuit breaker, then the circuit breakers for the individual lamps can be turned on. Easy, but one needs to follow the procedure. When one turns off the units, one reverses the steps- first you cut the lamps, then you turn off the main 240 volt breaker, then you simply turn the generator's key to the "off" position. I'm the guy who's supposed to kill the lights at the end of the night.
The previous weekend, I found that someone had taken the liberty of turning off the lights, but they didn't follow the procedure- whoever turned off the lights simply cut the ignition switch. I was a little miffed, but didn't think that this would be that big of a deal. Come Friday, I turned on one of the units, and trudged over to the other one. The generator started up with no problem, I tripped the main, breaker, then I flip the light switches and... it is pitch dark (as you can surmise, I was not eaten by a grue). Facchinello! I had to call the head of the maintenance department and explain the situation to him. He had to call the rental company, and request that they send a technician over to check out the unit. Now, I have to tell the team leader of the parking contractor to tell her crew not to touch the light trees (I learned that one of the valets took it upon himself to cut the lights at the end of his shift), and find the site director to explain the situation to him.
The site director's first reaction was to ask, "Who told the valets to turn off the lights?" I told him that they valet who killed (in one case literally) the lights had taken it on himself to turn off the lights, thinking that he was doing us a favor. The site director had this notion that someone had told the valets to do this, and asked me, "Do you think that (**REDACTED**) told the valets to turn off the lights?" I answered that he wouldn't have gone out of his way to tell the valet to do his job- he's not the kind of guy who likes to kibbitz unnecessarily. I don't know why the site director has it in his head to look for a more complicated explanation than the one I got from the valets themselves- the guy who killed the lights, and killed the unit thought he was doing us a favor, and he took the task upon himself.
I spent a good deal of the night out in the parking lot, waiting for the technician to come to repair the unit. It took him a while to get to our site, because the weekend traffic is so horrible. When he finally came, it was an absolute delight to deal with him... ever watch somebody who really knew his or her job at work? This guy was very young, in our conversation, I found out that he was twenty-two. He went about troubleshooting the problem in a very thorough, methodical fashion. He'd been on the job for two years- starting when he was just twenty. He made it a point to keep all sorts of spare parts in his truck, joking, "The older guys always ask me why I keep so many parts in my truck, telling me 'You'll never need that', but I figure I'd cover all my bases." I had to tell him, "Maturity isn't a function of age, some people never get it, no matter how many years they put in." The kid was level-headed, competent, and thorough. He determined that the problem was a blown capacitor. Because he was a stickler for preparedness, he had a spare in the truck, so he was able to fix the problem lickety-split. I don't hand out the accolades lightly, but Alex from United Rentals is the kind of person you want in your corner, whether you are a co-worker or a client.
After he got the light on, I sent a text message to the head of the maintenance department, who (like myself) has a bit of a smartass streak: "Problem is fixed." His reply was: "I'll alert the media!" Yeah, a real smartass- we get along very well.
I'm hoping the site director doesn't try to make a big deal about this ultimately trivial issue, based on his unfounded suspicion that my co-worker **REDACTED** delegated his responsibility to the parking contractors. The simple problem is that one of the guys working in the lot thought he was doing us a favor, and forgot the rule, "Don't play with the other kid's toys."
I also want to take a moment to say that I absolutely hate it when I am asked to speculate about things on the job- I like to keep to the facts as I observe them. I also refuse to voice speculations about the motivations of others- "Why did so-and-so do that?" I dunno, ask so-and-so. I come to work to work, and avoid the merest hint of interpersonal drama like the plague.