Aug 10, 2012
Engineering profession teeming with clever dicksBack
Aircraft|Building|Concrete|Design|Engineering|Fire|Metal Sheet Roof|Insulation
I am not beautiful at all, but this does not matter to the BH – she has had her beautiful and pretty boyfriends and now she loves me.
In a recent incident, we were having a drink in a hotel. There was a group of guys nearby and one of them kept eying the BH. He edged closer and finally tried to get between the BH and me, and started a conversation, which I soon interrupted.
“I’m just having a little chat,” he said. “Yes,” I said, “so am I.” He said: “She wants to talk to me.” So I said, if you’re sure, then ask her, which he did. She looked at him with some revulsion and said words to the effect that if she were in a lifeboat alone with him she would rather drink seawater and go mad than indulge in light conversation.
This was about the fifth incident of this kind. In all cases, the men involved were a class I call clever dicks. They think that they have some ability not granted to normal people which puts them above the rules of physics or of normal society. I believe that, apart from socially, it is in engineering, and particularly electrical and acoustics engineering (both my field of practice), where you get the most clever dicks. Many times, more than I can count, I have been called in by a client to be shown a distribution board and asked my opinion of it. Very often, the boards are unsafe, have not been maintained and the earth bars are missing; additional circuits have been badly added, there are no labels and there are inadequate fault levels.
So, I say: look, this board is finished – you have to replace it. I give a budget. As night follows day, I will be called in a week later to argue, in front of the client, with an electrician who claims he can rebuild the distribution board and it will be as good as new. Naturally, it will not be. It will have no established fault rating and no certificate of compliance.
But the clever dick client listens to the clever dick electrician and they go ahead with the electrician’s idea. Further, as sure as the sun rises, I will be called a few years later by insurers following a fire. “Hello,” they say, “were you involved in specifying this distribution board?”
Clever dicks in acoustics are worse. On numerous occasions, I have been at an end-of-site party and the conversation with the client goes as follows:
Client: “So, which part of the professional team are you?”
Me: “Acoustics design.”
Client: “Strange. I can’t hear anything wrong with the building’s acoustics.” Duhhh.
Even better was the banking client. I told him that they had to insulate the roof owing to the intrusion of rain noise. “Rubbish,” he said, “I’ve been in my town office and I’ve never heard rain noise!”
He was correct. His town office had a concrete slab roof. His new office had an IBR metal sheet roof. The retrofitting of insulation cost a fortune.
It is not only in engineering that you get clever dicks. There are those who park their sports cars in the parking exit lane and go off to watch the rugby and scream at the guard who puts on the wheel clamp; the woman who parks in our local disabled parking and, when questioned, says, oh, I’ll only be a few minutes; the politicians who think that ‘carry-on baggage’ is any suitcase you can carry onto the aircraft without assistance and then expect the cabin staff to sort it out; and the taxi drivers who think the emergency lane is their very own bus lane.
Oh, you know the type? But you are not one of them . . . if you were, you would have skipped this page by now.
Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor
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