Friday, August 10, 2018

Stub 2.4: Dead in the water

Raymond came in the second morning and just about blew a gasket when he saw that his crews had not painted a single wall.

He called John Kloake, his third shift crew lead aside and asked for an update.

John could see Raymond was steamed.  “The drywallers haven’t turned over any of the rooms to us.” John said.

“And why is that?” Raymond asked.

“Well, I reckon it is because the electricians haven’t released the rooms to the drywallers.” John said.

“Make me smarter.  Why are the electricians not releasing the rooms to the drywallers?” Raymond asked.

That is when Raymond’s cellphone went off.  It was the project manager and he wanted to talk to Raymond RIGHT NOW.

Raymond said to John, “Don’t leave until we finish this conversation.”

The project manager asked Raymond to managing the second shift electricians.  His second shift electrical foreman had broken his leg the night before and would not be cleared for work for at least four weeks.

“I don’t know anything about electrical.  Besides, I have painters to supervise.” Raymond objected.

“I don’t have a problem with you supervising second.  It is not like they are getting any work done.  Anything you get out of them is a bonus.  Regarding the painting, there is nothing to paint.  You guys aren’t needed here.” the project manager said.  “I want you to be here at 2:00 PM for the shift-to-shift hand-off.

Raymond really had no choice but to agree.  He called second and third shifts and set up a “skeleton crew”.  Then he shifted the remainder of the crews to some small jobs he had been keeping in his hip pocket.

At the shift-to-shift meeting all he heard was that second shift was nothing but a bunch of sorry, broke-richards who could not do anything right.  The first shift foreman basically told him to sit on his hands and do nothing because nothing he did would be right anyway.

Raymond had Eric with him as the second shift crew of electricians filed in.  Raymond was surprised when they all sat down and watched him.

“Ummm, why aren’t you going to your work assignments?” Raymond asked.

“Because you haven’t given us the line-up.  We don’t work until after you give us an assignment.” The electrician crew lead said.  His name tag identified him as Al McDowel.

“Don’t you just start up where you left off?” Raymond asked, puzzled.

“Nope.  Guess you are gonna learn about that over the next few days.”  Al chuckled.

Raymond was getting a little bit pissed.  Not at Al but at the shift-to-shift meeting where he should have been ‘prepped for success’.  “Well, Al, since I am new at this…what would a great boss do next?” Raymond asked.

“I dunno.  Let’s take a walk.”  Al said.

“Do you mind if Eric comes along?  He is not skilled-trades but I count on him to see things that I miss.”  Raymond asked.

Al looked at Eric.  “Suit yourself.”  he said.

As they were walking, Al started a running commentary, “What you gotta understand is that first shift thinks the “off” shifts are a bunch of mis-fits, like the aisle of mis-fit toys.  They have the ear of management and they never miss an opportunity to run us down.”

Stepping into one of the rooms Al pointed at the wiring.  “We had this all ready for the drywall crew at midnight but the boss told us to not turn it over to them.  First shift came in and yanked the wires out of the receptacles and out of the lighting fixtures.  That is their way of saying they did not like our work.”

Raymond frowned.  “You mean you had this work done and they ripped it out?”

“Perzactly what I mean.” Al confirmed.

“And their reason was….?” Raymond asked.

“They said that it did not meet their standards.  Apparently, one of the guys on first shift used to be a Cali building inspector and he is a bit put out that he now has to work for a living.  He somehow convinced the supervisor that we can’t do anything until he approves it.” Al said.

“Obviously, we need to have some kind of quality assurance for electrical work.” Raymond mused.  “Bad wiring can kill people.”

“You don’t know the half of it.” Al said.

“Tell me, if you were an inspector, what would you look for?” Raymond asked.

“The appropriate breaker for the smallest gauge wire in the circuit.  No more than eight receptacles on a 14 ga circuit.  Wire paths that avoids sharp edges.  Two, dedicated lighting circuits per room.  Tight connections.  At least ten unused circuits per breaker box for future use.” Al said.

“That and other stuff.” he said.

“So anybody could do this?” Raymond asked.

“Woah there, cowboy.  That ain’t how it works.  Any Master Electrician could do it ‘cause they know what they are seeing.” Al said.

“Are you a Master Electrician?” Raymond asked.

“I am.” Al responded.

“So, technically, you could approve the wiring?” Raymond asked.

“I suppose if you meant ‘functionally’ I could.  But I would be a lot more comfortable if a second Master Electrician also ran his eyeballs over it too.”  Al looked over at Eric, who had not said a word.  “Different people see different things and we are talking about people’s safety.”

Raymond asked, “Are any of the other electricians working this shift Master Electricians?”

Al shook his head.  “Nope, but Javier on third shift is one.”

“Do you have his number?” Raymond asked.

“Yes.” Al replied.

“Call him up and let him know I want him to come in a couple of hours early.  We have some things to sort out.  We need to have our shit together if first shift is controlling the story.” Raymond said.

Next Installment of Stub

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