Wednesday, February 4, 2015

One Day Many Years Ago

The older I grow the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom. ~H.L. Mencken

One thing about being retired is that you start to clean out old stuff from the working days. I found a huge folder of stuff containing resumes, certifications, certificates for class completions, a huge number of job applications, and jokes. In the pre-email days, people used to use the copier to disseminate all manner of joke letters and cartoons. Surprisingly almost all of these are suitable for mixed company. One of my favorites is

It is difficult to soar with eagles when you work with turkeys.

You get the drift.
One thing I stumbled upon was a letter I wrote to my boss back in my Quality Control days at a company called All-Lock, a maker of automotive door and ignition locks. Like several of the places I've worked, it's not around any longer, but it's not my fault.
At any rate, I had been diagnosed with gall stones, so I was going to have the gall bladder removed. The boss portrayed himself as a super hardass who couldn't stand to have employees taking time off or possibly increasing health plan costs. While he was a guy who watched the pennies, he generally treated people well, but he tried not to let anyone know. So he started ragging me about needing time off and running the expense of surgery. He would point out the guys in the Tool Room could do a little cut and snip job and weld me up like new.
Obviously he was kidding, but he went on and on about it, so I decided I could have a little fun on my part. I sent him the following memorandum:

To: The Boss

From: The Gog

Subject: In Plant Surgical Procedures

While I appreciate the kind offer of the Tool Room's services for my upcoming surgery, I feel I must decline.

Aside from the normal considerations of sepsis (I can't keep computer computer screens clean, for crying out loud), we must consider our normal tool sharpening procedures. Like, when was the last time we actually sharpened anything?

Even more of a concern is our, shall we say, relaxed attitude toward tolerances? After all, the gall bladder is uncomfortably close to some organs I would like to keep.

Thanks, anyway.

Cc: American Medical Association

I expected that he would come by my office and offer some sarcastic reply, but, no. He had to one-up me. He passed the note on to the Engineering Manager. Now, Engineering and Quality departments have a long history of a sort of strained relationship. We both know we need to be shipping good stuff, but Engineering tends to blame the operators, while Quality often points out process problems and tolerance issues. Ultimately, we usually got together, but getting there could be rocky at times. My relationship with Lawrence, the manager, was pretty typical. We knew were on the same side, but we weren't always sure about it. So, since I was taking a shot across his bow (the Tool Shop reported to Engineering), he took the opportunity to get his own little dig in.
Eventually, then, I came into my office to find my memo on my desk with a handwritten note at the bottom, signed by Lawrence:

I thought only our customers knew our attitude toward tolerances. I had no idea it came to the attention of our QC Mgr. How does it leak into the office?

Aw, Lawrence, I didn't know you cared.