My First Tester

My First Tester

When I first started working as an electrician we didn’t need much for tools.  A screwdriver, hammer, hacksaw and pliers comprised a pretty full tool selection.  The pliers, of course, must be able to also cut wire.

I remember the first time I bought a tester.  It was to test voltage as to whether it was 120 or 240 volts.  It had the capability to test voltage up to 550 volts, but we never needed anything that high.

I had wanted one for a long time and boy was I proud of that tool!  We called it a “Wiggy.”  I bought it at Markles in Glasgow, Montana.  I used it for about 60 years and still have it and it works just fine today.  It does have a few battle scars.

When you have more tools you have to remember to pick them all up when you leave a job.  I couldn’t possibly count all the tools I have lost, but somehow I always kept the Wiggy.  Sometimes customers would call me and tell me I had left a tool there.  That was really nice.  One time, when I went back on a job a number of years later, the customers told me that I had left a tool and they had saved it for me.  By that time, of course, I had replaced it.

One job I had was at a motel that had a wooden fence along one side of the parking lot.  When I was picking up my tools I could not find my Wiggy.  I couldn’t imagine where I had left it.  A year later I went back to that same motel and my Wiggy was hanging across the fence.  It had been there through rain, sleet, ice, snow, hot sun, below zero weather, no one had bothered it, it had not disappeared, and it still worked fine.

Attitudes have changed since then.  Years later I was working on the Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane, Washington.  I went to a restroom where there were stalls already installed.  (I always carried my tools in my pockets, and had learned years before that when you dropped your trousers the tools would fall out and scatter around the floor.  Some would, at times, even take a bath.)  This time I took my tools out of my pocket and laid them on a shelf outside the stall.

While I was in the stall I heard someone enter and leave rather quickly.  When I exited the stall my tools were gone.  I realized that working men had lost their respect for another man’s tools.