Things That Make You Go FACEPALM!

I just… I just… what the fuck, over?

Just, what the fuck?

I’m sitting at my desk here, right now, plowing through all sorts of customer related incidents and scheduling and repair coordination and parts ordering.

I’m feeling like a champion because I beat down our billing system from four pages down to less than one page of outstanding orders to invoice. I’m bringing home the bacon.

While I’m sitting my butt down behind a desk, I have my fleet of service techs out there right now, busily representing us to the customers, performing the repairs, installing the parts, doing inspections.

From out of nowhere, I get a call from one of our most remote service techs. Or perhaps I should, one of our more far out techs.

I’ve got this guy out being a hero for a customer. Customer had a busted system, big old honking $250,000 machinery installation, and they had all sorts of studs (multi-level threaded structural bolts) that had sheared off from side load force.

Customer had tried some other service provider, and they quoted 6 weeks to replace, ordered the parts, and then when the parts came in, they were the wrong parts. Customer was looking at waiting ANOTHER 6 weeks for the right parts to come in, and turned to me.

“Help me, Big Bear Butt, you’re my only hope! I can’t be down ANOTHER SIX WEEKS!”

I understand. I’m here for you.

Well, your biggest problem is, you didn’t come to me first. But that’s okay, I can help. I’ll send a guy up today, pull one of those studs out, I’ll draw it up in CAD and have a machine shop match the hardness, fabricate you a new set, we’ll get it heat treated and back to you installed in less than two weeks.

Customer swoons. Sales are made. BIG money. Happiness descends across the land, and another competitor falls before the might of the Bear.

Or so I thought.

I’ve got my guy there RIGHT NOW, installing the newly machined studs, and he gives me a call.

All I want to hear from him is, “Mission accomplished, and I’m on my way to my next scheduled assignment.”

What I hear instead, is “Hey, the customer wants to know what our safety policy is concerning running my lift while it’s still on the trailer.”


“What did you say? I know what all those words mean individually, but placed together the way you said them, they make no sense to me.”

“The customer wants to know what OUR safety policy is concerning me running my man lift while it’s still on the trailer.”


“So wait. Let me… just, okay. So, you’re saying… you used the man lift while it was still on the trailer.”

“Yes, I backed the trailer under the equipment and then got in and used the lift while it was still on it.”

“On IT. The trailer. While the lift was still ON the TRAILER.”



“So you’re saying… the lift. The man lift. The lift that takes you 26′ into the sky to fix shit… this lift was still on the two-wheeled little trailer you use to haul it around behind your truck. It was on the trailer when you used it.”

I can’t believe I’m asking this. The words, they come out of my mouth, but they can’t be right. I must not understand.

“Yes, the customer wants to know what our safety policy is concerning that.”



“You know, I’m going to have to get back to you on that. I just slapped my palm so hard across my face I just knocked a few of my own teeth out, and I need to go clean up the blood and find them. I’ll call you back.”

For those of you out there wondering, “What’s the big deal?”, let me explain something.

If you are a contractor, you carry insurance. You have safety policies. You have procedures.

One of the procedures is, you follow the safety policies of the customer when you are on the customer’s work site, unless your own policies are STRICTER.

If a customer requires personnel to wear safety goggles, steel toe boots, a rigging harness and fall arrestor strap, high visibility yellow mesh vests, a hard hat with special stickers denoting training completed, ear plugs AND ear muffs and a feather sticking out of your ass, YOU WEAR THEM.

You follow the customers rules, ALWAYS when on their property, unless your own rules are MORE stringent, not less.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go have lunch, and a fifth of tequila, and contemplate our being banned from a customer because one of my geniuses decides to back the truck right the fuck on up and then use a 26′ man lift because he was too fucking lazy to back it off the lift first.

Oh, and HAPPY FRIDAY!!!!

15 thoughts on “Things That Make You Go FACEPALM!

  1. that’s just.. wow..
    reminds me of the shop assistant kid on H&H Tech. (loved that show)
    He was a top notch aluminum welder, but a complete BFRC everywhere else.

    *** BFRC for the uninitiated means Big Friggin Red Cloud, a moniker given to the Titan rocket I think. They were notoriously difficult to maintain, and if something went wrong and the solid fuel ignited, it left.. well.. a BFRC.


  2. That… not so mentally gifted… employee should count his blessings that he didn’t wind up needing the services of my profession. (Nurse, I work in a hospital.)


  3. I might have missed the part, but you seem to have not considered the even-worse scenario. Maybe he’s not being passive-aggressive or indirect. Maybe that use of the lift is actually more strict than the customer’s policies. It’s a wonder they’re still alive.

    My brother used to be a civil engineer and he’d often be sent out to do inspections on overpasses. They’d pull their truck off the highway and send up the boom. There’s some waiting to do. He’d always get out of the truck and stand way off to the side. Other guys would laugh at him for it, since he’d often be freezing his ass off in the cold. Then one day someone died when the truck he was sitting in got hit. After that they changed company policy to mandate that people not sit in the giant target.


    • For every stupid warning label you see, like on a lawnmower where it says ‘Do not put fingers under rim while mower is running’, you know there’s some goober out there who now can’t count past two and a half that made them put that on there…


  4. Oh lord. I work around commercial pipelines and facilities, and the stuff I see makes me cringe on a regular basis. I’ve shut down work on several occasions and forced people to correct things. One of the worst offenders – bell holes. Just google the term and you’ll see what I’m talking about (for the non-construction inclined). OSHA requires you to have a means of egress to the excavation. Yeah, some of the things these folks do and call “a means of egress” just drives me insane. I’ve seen ropes tied to trucks and heavy equipment; all manner of horribly narrow ramps in unstable areas; people being lifted out of an excavation via an excavator bucket; etc.

    As a side note, here’s the OSHA reg I’m talking about: 1926.651(c)(2) Means of egress from trench excavations. A stairway, ladder, ramp or other safe means of egress shall be located in trench excavations that are 4 feet (1.22 m) or more in depth so as to require no more than 25 feet (7.62 m) of lateral travel for employees.

    I have to draw pictures to get this into the apparently empty skulls of many a foreman, and I now have a nifty card I made to carry around. This does NOT mean you need a ladder every 25 feet. It means you need one every 50 feet. You can have more, but you only NEED one every 50 feet. It also means you need a clear, lateral path to that ladder – no obstructions.

    That’s just a small sampling of the insanity that comes with inspection. Unfortunately, I see things on an almost daily basis. Seriously, if you’re work place requires some kind of protection – even if it seems a pain in the butt – just do it. OSHA regs are only made because someone probably got killed or horribly injured. I could go on forever just on ladders /sigh


  5. Forwarded to our EQ manager and Safety Director. They need a laugh on a Friday. 🙂

    Totally (and sadly) sounds like my company.


  6. Ok what is the company name? I Insure people like you against accidents and need to make sure your not one of my insurers.
    If so, you can expect notification about cancellation!!!



  7. In other news, this is actually an official OSHA violation. Per OSHA requirements, the only way you can use a lift that is on a triler is if the lift is bolted physically to the trailer, the trailer is stabilized with outriggers.

    This is just… you know, this makes us look like we hand a truck and trailer with tools to any schmuck that walks in off the street, and that our guys are amateur hour on the midway. It’s embarassing.

    I’ve got it addressed now. It most certainly will not, ever, happen again.

    Until the next stupid thing.

    You know, this is exactly the kind of STUPID SHIT people record on their phones and post on Youtube, with the caption, “Darwin Awards”.


    • Meh… You’re being too hard on the guy. Write him up, or fire him, and let that be the end of it.

      The customer is dealing with, your company to an extent, but you. You are the brand. The guy riding on the lift/trailer is going to come off as a moron, or untrained, but you are still the brand and it’s out of the customer’s respect for this brand that he had the guy call.

      At the end of the day, it’s not the dumbest thing he could be doing, nobody got hurt, and in six months you’ll get a chuckle out of it.

      I’ve been in the machinery business for over 20 years, and can tell you that it doesn’t hold a candle to the dumb things I’ve seen, permit me to list a few:

      * Pilling people onto the back of a forklift to keep the back wheels down (so it can steer)
      * Operating an overhead crane, while standing on what’s being lifted
      * Handling shear blades w/o gloves on
      * Working in the pit under live machinery
      * Randomly pushing relays to “see what they do”
      * forgetting the rotation on 3ph motors and crashing blades on shears

      I’ve even seen those little scissor lifts being hoisted by a forklift to change a lightbulb.


  8. Sounds like the customer’s got the good ol’ Minnesota Passive-Aggressive. “I don’t want to confront him and tell him what he’s doing is unsafe, so I’ll make him ask his supervisor a loaded question instead.”


  9. Holy shit… this stuff, unloading it on to a stable surface before using a lift… this shouldn’t need to be taught. Even if there was no policy about it, common sense would dictate not doing something so utterly stupid. Self preservation instincts alone should force you to stick the 26′ lift you’re on, on a stable surface.

    And man, this made me laugh out loud “….ear plugs AND ear muffs and a feather sticking out of your ass…” 😀


  10. Hahahahahahahahaha oh my God….

    So are you looking for a new tech?

    Because we’ve already concluded that he wasn’t thinking!!!

    The weight of the damn arm could have tipped the trailer over and he’d be a cherry pancake on the ground.

    I have a friend who is EHS for Bechtel…yeah, I am going to forward this one to him.


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