Waste Not

I was working on the job one time with a bunch of painters.  One of them was from Germany, and had learned the trade there when he was a kid.

His starting job in Germany was to beat on the old, empty paint cans.  The purpose of this practice was to save, grind up, and reconstitute the paint chips as usable paint.  His comment was “They don’t waste stuff in Germany.”  He added; “I saw a man there once that blew his nose into a handkerchief so that he could take it home and his wife could make use of it.  I don’t know what she did with it, but she used it.  Over here, they just blow it out on the ground.  They waste everything.”

O.K.  Sure.

If examples of waste are what we’re talking about, here’s another example.

When the lighting was going in along the Freeway through Spokane, all of the posts, fixtures and wire were shipped in from elsewhere.  The wire came in wound around large reels.  To add a further degree of difficulty, the wire was expensive.  The foreman, thinking ahead, had the apprentice pre-cut the wire for the poles to an exact length that he had determined.

His reasoning on the matter was that it was going to be much easier to transport the wire in cut lengths than to haul around the large reels.

When the poles and wiring began to be installed, they learned that some poles were longer than the rest.  They were the poles that had to be tall enough to extend past the height of an overpass.  The solution the foreman came up with was to use some of the remaining wire and make a splice inside the pole.

There was a small problem with this solution.  Well actually, there were two small problems.  The first problem was that it was not an NEC code compliant fix.  The second problem was that the wire was heavy and hung without support down the length of the pole.  (Which, incidentally, was one of the reasons why it was not code compliant practice to splice the wire inside the pole.)

And it came to pass that an inspector happened to find the spliced wire in one of the poles.  The inspector threatened to make the company pull all of the wire out of all of the completed lighting poles to be assured that there were no splices in any of them.

I don’t know how it ended up being worked out, but I bet that painter from Germany would have had something to say about the whole situation.

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