Shut It Off! Shut It Off!

Shut It Off!  Shut It Off!

One of the men I worked with did everything at 100 miles per hour.  He was really a sharp electrician.  When he would check out what was wrong with a furnace or other piece of equipment, he would grab a piece of #12 wire, strip the ends, jumper out (if you are an electrician you know what this means) and check out the valves, switches, motors, controls, etc., and in a few seconds he would say “the trouble is right there.”  He was invariably correct.

He could also be quite impatient with me because, in his perception, I was too slow.  The speed with which he worked, and expected everyone else to work, may or may not have been caused by his past employment.  He had worked as an electrician on board Navy ships during World War II.

One day we were disconnecting some wiring in a basement.  He was standing on a small stool and reached into a closed space.  I was working about 20 feet away from him when I heard this strange noise.  I looked around and he was shaking on this stool and shouted; “Shut it off, shut it off!”  Right away I knew he had gotten into some hot wires.

The electrical disconnects were beyond where he was standing, at the other end of the basement.  I figured I’d kick the stool out from under him because I didn’t want to grab hold of him and have two dead bodies in the basement.

I had taken about two steps when the stool tipped over and he broke loose from the hot wires.  He had burned a hole, about 1/8” round, on the surface of his hand.  However, electrical burns damage the skin in a cone shape that enlarges as it goes further under the skin.  His burn was a serious burn.  I didn’t have opportunity to work with him again, so I don’t know if he lost any use of his hand or not.

I learned a lot from this fellow.

I learned both what to do and how to do it – and what not to do and why not.