Old Dogs

BITTEN


it was another
slow second shift
and I had made
just a few
minor
mechanical adjustments
to a couple
of machines
then caught up
on some paperwork
but once finished
was idle
not even trying
to maintain
a pretense
of believable
activity

the red
trouble light
erupted with a glow
and I made my way
back to the desk
to sign in
on whatever
the complaint
I shook my head
as I read the writeup
and glanced in the direction
of the suspect equipment
and the suspect
operator

Sally said
that the machine
had shocked her
and showed me
what she had touched
when it had happened
but where she pointed
contained nothing but
some low voltage circuits
and some heat wraps
to keep the sensors
from fogging over
at below zero
test temperatures

nothing there
could have really
zapped her

the line workers
were mostly housewives
and college students
having no technical
knowledge or training
but always professed
to know their machines
better than
we technicians

of course
sitting in front
of the same
test gear
all shift
meant that
they were
usually
right

she stuck
to her shock story
so I went through the act
of checking things out
as I tried to explain
why her claim
wasn't plausible
but my elaborate explanation
failed to convince her
so I continued to feel
for loose wires
or questionable
connections

I again
shook my head
as she pointed her finger
toward the alleged
source of shock
insisting
that her accusation
was true

I slightly
lost my temper
reaching in
with both hands
to show her
that no danger
lurked there

I felt
somewhat silly
looking up at her
from a seated position
on the cold tile floor
but the feeling passed
as I saw
the sadistic smile
spread on her face
nodding her head
and rolling her eyes
toward the ceiling
with an air
of superiority
that had until recentlyv been mine

I got back
in Sally's chair
and unfolded
the machine's schematic
seeing what I thought
I already knew
low voltages everywhere
in the now apparent
hostile area

putting
the drawings aside
I stood up
and powered
the monster
down
to begin
a more diligent
and detailed
investigation

after only
a few minutes
of refocused searching
I found the culprit

someone
had replaced
a 12 volt DC heat wrap
with one that favored
120 volt AC
and failed
to document
the change
probably
a first-shifter
in a hurry
or more
than likely
suffering
from a
hangover

I found
the right part
rewired the circuit
to the proper supply
turned the beast on
and even
put my lips
on the formally hazardous
object of debate
to assure the woman
that it was again
safe
to operate

I scribbled
the discovery
and solution
in the trouble log
looking back through
the pages of the day
searching for any
documentation
hinting at
a potential
murderer

not only
had I been
almost electrocuted
but had probably lost
what little credibility
I might have had
with the line crew
so I spent
the remainder
of the night shift
running units
for Sally
and kissing ass
as she lectured me
on my know-it-all
attitude

sometimes
I wondered
if I should have elected
to drop out
of tech school
when I had
the chance
and taken
that job
at a ski lift
in Colorado

the laughter
in the break room
later convinced me
that I had indeed
passed
on a Golden
opportunity