… And Sometimes, the Customer’s a Fool

I’m probably too mad to be posting.

The fact that I can even think that means that I am too mad. Yet post I shall.

One of my customers–I won’t say who, eh?, but that’s only because I value my job–is pushing to make a choice that is absolutely, 100% unsafe. Not only do I think it’s unsafe, but my manager thinks that it’s unsafe. He told me so last night over a beer, and my job today was to hold down the fort just in case the customer wanted to do this.

At about 3:40, one of my favorite people at TBE called me to tell me that the customer wanted to do specifically what I was to avoid. They were headed to the clean room. I thanked Dean for the information, tried to call my senior fellow engineer, and when I couldn’t reach Jim, I had one choice:

March my happy ass to the clean room and physically bar them from laying a hand on that piece of hardware.

Mind you, they didn’t come out there, so I’m back in the main building. I just marched down to my Vice President’s office, but he was in a meeting. I told his secretary why I was there, and she told me that Jim had already called to speak to my Vice President. So, somewhat satisfied that this is going to get solved rationally–or at least a level far, far above where I am in this company–I’m going to hang around in my old office a bit, see if I can catch Jim to add my two cents, and then go back to my other office to finish the stuff that I really do need to do today before I leave.

I’m so mad, I could spit. I had to write this so I’d calm down–I hate to think what would have happen if I’d actually gotten into Mr. Runkle’s office to speak with him and tell him what a damn fool idea this is. I mean, I’d hope that my good sense would kick in and that I’d try to be diplomatic about it, but … whew.

You just don’t play with spaceflight hardware. Period.

1 comment

  1. In order of priority, there are four things that will MAKE an organization that produces a product: 1. Safety, 2. Quality, 3. Delivery, and 4. Cost.

    Some businesses and customers get those out of order and they either pay for it now or pay for it later.

    You are learning (or have already learned) that young grasshopper — scratch that — young engineer.

    Illigitamati Non Carborundom.

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