Useful PeoplePosted Oct 10, 2011
The way I see it, there are two kinds of people on this big blue marble—useful people and people like me! Not that people like me don’t have value too. For example, we provide countless opportunities to show useful people how useful they are! That’s our job. Useful people often don’t realize their own importance, and therefore they need people like me to remind them of their worth. Of course, it takes a lot of patience and humility to always have to be showing useful people their merit to this establishment, but that’s the kind of guy I am! Every successful organization must have a proper balance of useful people and people like me. Too many useful people, and the end result is folks sitting around with nothing to do because it’s already been done. On the other hand, if you don’t have people like me around, than you don’t have anything for the useful people to do! You don’t agree? Well then, you are probably a useful person and wouldn’t understand this kind of philosophy anyway—now go and make yourself useful!
Out here in the Canyon, we have several useful people. One who often comes to my rescue is Hugh Schneemann. He goes by “Hoochie,” and he is the quintessential useful person. It seems that no matter how hard I prepare for some menial task, by the time I get to the jobsite, I won’t have the right tool for the job. I could be dragging an Ace Hardware Store behind my truck, and I’ll still have to go back to the maintenance barn three times before I finally have the right tools! Hoochie, on the other hand, always has the perfect gadget to get the job done right in his truck and within arm’s reach. A typical radio conversation with Hoochie goes something like this:
John: “Hey, Hoochie, I’m over at Wind Song and I can’t get the nut on this basketball goal to break loose.”
Hoochie: “You need a cordless impact wrench . . . Hang on. I’ve got one in the truck.”
John: “Hoochie, I just sheared this bolt off with your cordless impact wrench, and I can’t get the nut back on!”
Hoochie: “No problem, I’ve got a tungsten carbide bolt threader in my truck—be there in a minute.”
John: “Hey Hoochie, I just high centered my truck over here at secondary dump, and I’m stuck!”
Hoochie: “I got a come-a-long in my truck—be there in a minute.”
I’m pretty sure that if I radioed Hoochie and told him that I had just cut my arm off, he would respond with, “Don’t worry, I’ve got a team of vascular surgeons in my truck. Put a tourniquet on it, and I’ll be there in a minute!” Except for me having to wait around all those minutes, Hoochie and I make a good team.
The Canyon tech team is made up entirely of useful people, but the problem with those guys is that they keep speaking in a foreign language that only useful people can translate. For example, I’ll be having a normal radio conversation about a broken freezer over at Echo Valley with the tech team. Things will be tracking along nicely, and everyone is on the same page. Then, all of a sudden, one of them will change languages and ask, “Is that relay switch a single pole single throw, or a single pole double throw?” At this point, I have to be careful how I respond. Obviously, I don’t have a clue what they’re talking about, but it would be embarrassing for me to reply with, “Uhh-what?” On the other hand, it also wouldn’t sound very professional to reply with my usual technical jargon: “Well, the little black gizmo is hooked up to that thingamabob on the bottom, and the doohickey on top is turned sideways.” Useful people also understand common vocabulary that you hear more often, yet still baffle people like me, such as the difference between watts, volts, and amps. People like me just don’t grasp these terms that easily. I tried to get Alan Blaha to explain it to me the other day, and he said, “Watts are a measure of the use of electrical power, and one watt is equal to one volt multiplied by one amp.” . . . Nope, still don’t get it!
It’s probably better if I leave the electrical work to useful people anyway. Electricity and people like me just don’t get along very well. For example, I tried to splice some Christmas tree lights in my living room last December and promptly set the carpet on fire! Then there was the time when I almost killed Willis Adair when I told him that the breaker was “thrown,” and that he could hook up the wires on a vent hood at the River House.
Guys like Willis, Alan, and Hoochie are representative of the many useful and talented people we have in the Canyon, and it is a privilege to work with them, although I do get a little tired of always having to wait a minute for one of them to come and fix my problem. In the end, I’ll probably go to my grave not knowing much about amps, volts, bits, and bytes, and to my way of thinking, that’s okay—it’s all part of that balance that I was talking about. Anyway, I have more important things to think about . . . like where is the orange hammer that I just put down right next to me two minutes ago, or how am I going to get that screw that I just dropped through the engine compartment of my truck?
“Hey, Hoochie, you got a minute?”