The First Field Call

[Received via e-mail: March 10, 1997]

After I had spent seventeen weeks being trained I went on my first field call. I walked in with the experienced field engineer who was supposed to be training me and the customer said that the tape drive would not power up. This is in the days when a tape drive was seven foot tall and thirty inches wide and weighed about seven-hundred pounds. As it would have been difficult to move the tape drive and there was not much room behind it, Dennis said that he would work on it and that he would tell me about it afterwards.

As I had nothing to do, I surveyed the area and followed the AC cord back to the wall and found that the plug was hanging out. I called to Dennis and told him and he said that I should wait as he was just on the relay that wasn't picking1. I insisted that he should hear me as I did not want to plug the thing in and give him a shock.

Six months later I was his manager!

The moral is that sometimes you have to listen, how ever much you think that the other person does not know.


[A relay is basically an electrically operated switch. A small voltage may be used to switch a much larger voltage, for example. When the switch changes state from off to on this is called "picking." --tim]