Working Full Speed

I have come to a conclusion regarding valuable work.  There are two qualities that are valuable in the electrical trade.  Doing good, safe work makes you a valuable employee.  Doing good, safe work and doing it quickly makes you irreplaceable.  However, since there is an inherent danger to working with electricity sometimes working quickly in one aspect of the job is not always conducive to safety.  Therefore doing poor, unsafe work quickly, takes away an employee’s value.

When you are working for a small shop, yours or another person’s, there is no such thing as steady work.  There are weeks when there is nothing to do.  No calls come in, so you have to go out and hunt for work, and nobody wants or needs you.  The next week you may be running.  Everybody wants you – all at the same time.  This situation can lead to many interesting experiences.

One time I was working on a job way north of Havre, Montana near the Canadian border.  It was one of those times when we were trying to catch up or stay even with all of the calls.  I was hurrying home with just a few tools in the back of the company pick-up.  It was a gravel road and there wasn’t a posted speed limit, but my speed was about “way to fast” miles per hour.

I hit a washboard in the road.  To the un-countrified, a washboard is a ripple in the road.  It’s more than the ripples you will get on some streets at an intersection, where traffic patterns wear a series of rough ridges in pavement or graveled roads.  It is more than driving over a portion of road that makes you and all of your passengers involuntarily go “ddddddrrrrrrrrr.”  This was a washboard that stretched about three feet from crest to crest.

I’m not sure if I grabbed air at all much less how much air I grabbed if I did, but that washboard threw the pick-up all over the road, down a steep bank, and into the ditch.  I managed to stay in control of the pick-up, mostly.  The pick-up stayed wheels down and under power.  But I was still in a hurry, and I didn’t slow down – much, much less stop.

There was a steep bank on the right and a fence on the left.  I continued my way home steadily along that ditch for about ½ of a mile until I came to an approach.  I maneuvered my way out of the ditch and onto the approach and back onto the road.

Yes, I still hurried home but it scared me enough that I slowed down my driving, … somewhat.

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