Trial Balloon

Trial Balloon: October 27, 2009 Archive

Workplace Negligence

Posted at 5:26 AM on October 27, 2009 by Dale Connelly (13 Comments)

The story of the two pilots who overshot the Twin Cities because they were discussing the new company scheduling system while using their personal laptop computers in the cockpit reminds me of how glad I am that my job is not at all dangerous and even my worst lapses in judgment put no one else at risk. After reading Bob Collins' News Cut account of an NTSB report and a press release from the airline, it seems likely that these two experienced aviators will be fired.

I guess their schedules are set now.

My most embarrassing workplace fiasco happened when I was 19. I was a maintenance man on a golf course, doing the daily changing of pin placements on the greens. My employer (the greens keeper) sent me out in the red pickup truck he normally used to make his rounds because the smaller motorized carts were all in use that morning. The truck was symbolic - the boss's flagship. If we were goofing off out on the course, a glimpse of the red truck got us back on task. Like most of our equipment, the truck had a problem. It was a manual and the parking brake was broken, so it was important to remember to turn off the engine and leave the truck in gear should you ever, say, park it on the crest of a hill overlooking a small lake while you went to work on the green.

I think I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye at the very moment the truck started to roll. I gave chase, but the thing accelerated quickly (it WAS red, after all) and my talent as a runner was for endurance, not speed. Still, the lake was 70 yards away and I might have caught up to it before it entered the water if the truck hadn't hit a tree first. The front end was quite smashed.

It was a very long walk back to the maintenance shed. It felt like 150 miles.
I didn't lose my job and the boss got a new truck, so this is almost a happy ending, except that I was not allowed anywhere near the new vehicle. Ever.

Anyone have an unblemished work record?

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