“Bobbie, the guys feel too intimidated by you”
I’m not smart. I’m honestly not.
I’m actually pretty plain.
If I was smart I wouldn’t only have grade 8.
I would have put my 136 +/-6 IQ to use.
If I was smart I would have taken a trade.
Or I would have gone to college.
Or even university.
If I was half as smart as people think I am then I would have joined the Canadian Armed Forces when I was 20 and I would have retired this year.
So, I know that I’m not a genius by anyone’s standard.
But what gets me is people at work.
People in my department who have the same power engineering certificate and the exact same qualifications that I have.
I was hired by a man named Dave R. who was the chief engineer in 2005. He said that he saw something in me that would be beneficial to the dept.
Right off the bat this caused problems with my co-workers.
I’m not a trained mechanic.
I have no schooling as a mechanic.
I’m not a millwright, nor am I an electrician.
But as I said, I can analyze problems, and I am not afraid to read the fucking manual.
Maybe that’s my problem is that I realize how fucking stupid I actually am and therefore I know that I don’t know everything and therefore I’m not ashamed to read the fucking manual.
Maybe that’s my super power. Maybe realizing how fucking stupid I really am allows me to not over estimate my knowledge and therefore I’m open to listening to the ideas of others or just plain READING THE FUCKING MANUAL.
So anyways, one of the first incidents occurred while Dave was still the chief engineer. Dave had assigned one of the other power engineers to remove a pillow block bearing from one of the exhaust fans. Dave was getting frustrated with the amount of time it was taking this other engineer. Dave assigned me a work order to go assist this other engineer. This other engineer told me to stay away, he had everything under control.
This other engineer came down to the shop a few days later, still hadn’t gotten the bearing changed, and was now asking Dave to order a new pulley in for the fan as the old one just shattered as he tried to take it off. Turns out that this other engineer had never worked with a tapered bushing hub. He had used a 3-jaw puller on the pulley and when that wouldn’t work he got a 1/2″ impact gun and used that. The tapered bushing and the bore of the pulley were still on the shaft and he still couldn’t get it off. Dave was furious. Bob! Get up there and show him what to do. Now! So I grabbed my 3/8″ ratchet and my 7/16″ socket and headed up. The other engineer said that I was wasting my time and that I’d need the large prybar or a torch as the sleeve was obviously rusted to the shaft.
I removed the three bolts from the tapered sleeve. The other engineer said that he did the same thing but that the pulley still didn’t come off. I put the three bolts into the other holes that had been empty. These holes are threaded and allow the bolts to press the hub off the sleeve. The other engineer was beyond furious. I said “I offered to help you last week”. “Fuck you, you only think you’re smart”.
A few days go by and this other engineer still hadn’t changed the bearing. Dave was talking to this other engineer after coffee, Dave motioned to me to come over. Bob, go up and show him how to take a pillow block bearing off. “But Dave, I just need the oxyacetylene torch to heat the bearing up and it will come right off”. “We’re a hospital, we can’t be lighting fires in the mechanical rooms”. “Bob, show him what to do”. So I grabbed the angle grinder, and ball and peen hammer, and a cold chisel. The other engineer was adamant that this was not going to work. I used the angle grinder to cut through the pillow block, the and the bearing. The housing and the bearing dropped off. The only thing left was to notch the inner race and then use the cold chisel to expand the race to get it off the shaft.
We never really got along after that. The other engineer would do everything possible to stay away from me. And after Dave retired things got worse. An outside contractor was brought in to be the chief engineer. This guy had very little in the way of mechanical skills. He survived by hiding behind me and one other plant employee.
In 2011 this other engineer and I would collide again. He had been tasked with rebuilding the pitch mechanism for Supply Fan SF-54H. These are large 60 horsepower variable pitch fans. He had never done one of these before, and the new chief had no idea of what to do, so I had to go show this other engineer the different steps. When it came time to put the nose cone back over the hub I told him to get a box of q-tips, some degreaser, and use the q-tips and the degreaser to clean the oil and grease out of the threads for the cap screws that would hold the cover on. And that he was to use red loctite to lock the bolts in place so they wouldn’t come undone. I should have stayed, but he was getting agitated with my presence. Well, guess what he didn’t do? It cost around $15k to fix the damage.
This other engineer and I had a few more instances like this before he left. He ended up climbing the corporate ladder and now he’s a manager someplace else. It’s funny how people end up in different places.
And no, this problem hasn’t gone away. Just after I became the chief engineer I was pulled into the manager’s office. “Bobbie, the guys are feeling intimidated by you and they’re afraid to ask you questions”.
I don’t get it. I’ll never understand this. We’re all 4th class power engineers. We should all have the same basic level of knowledge. Some of the guys that are my subordinates are 3rd class power engineers. I should be going to them for help. Most of the guys don’t understand basic refrigeration, which is a part of 4th class engineering. Most of the guys have very limited understanding of electrical and controls. Concepts of pneumatic controls and digital automation escape them.
Over the years I had taken on the responsibility of servicing the Honeywell building automation system. I could do power supply changes, CPU board changes, I/O board changes, flash RAM board changes, system backups, system restores. I could do actuator upgrades and replacements. The chief engineer that had replaced Dave kept promising me that he was going to get me into the DDC technician’s position and that this would come with a pay raise. As it turned out this was a lie. The union ended up taking this before human resources. H.R. determined that I was not qualified to service the automation system and that I was to cease doing so. The other guys in the department, who had become accustomed to dumping automation problems on my plate started getting pissed off when I would tell them that I’m not allowed to fix the building automation system. “Bobbie, you’re just being a fucking asshole. If you know how to fix the fucking thing, fix it!”.
I’m the grade 8 drop out with a grade 12 G.E.D.. I’m the loser that lived on the streets. I’m the joker that stayed in homeless shelters. I’m the homosexual that allowed the babysitter to molest his younger brother. As I’ve said, I’ve never gone to trade school. I never took an apprenticeship. I was never trained on electronics in a diploma program.
I’m the asshole who’s supposed to fix everything, but I’m also the asshole who is not qualified to fix anything. I’m Schrödinger‘s power engineer. Too stupid to be anything else, too fucking smart that others are uncomfortable.
Bobbie, be something else!
Do something that you like!
Go back to school and become an <something>!
I’ve got a metric shit tonne of depressions, anxiety, CPTSD, self doubt, and self hatred.
I’m fifty years old. Contrary to what all of the helpful people have to say, there is no simple fix for my issues.
Mom! Dad! I need a place to stay while I go back to school / college / trade school / etc…… Yeah, that fucking ship sailed years ago. Grandpas, grandmas, aunts, uncles? Nope.
The time for trade school, for college, for university, for any of that was back in my teens or early 20s. This of course would have only been possible had I also received treatment for my major depression, my severe anxiety, my sexual and gender confusion gifted to me by Captain Terry Totzke.
Trying to go to school with 40 years of untreated major depression, severe anxiety, and all of the issues that go along with these issues would be utterly impossible.
And if you’re one of those people that say that I just have to smile and feel happy and that everything will be okay, you are part of the problem.
Wishing my issues away just to make yourself feel better isn’t going to make things better.