The world of electronics almost had another technician

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by strantor, Sep 4, 2013.

  1. strantor

    Thread Starter AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 3, 2010
    There's an alloy distributor that I get called out to every month or so because they have an automated saw that has gremlins in the control system. The saw loads pipes, advances them down a conveyor, cuts them to specific length, then spits them out the other end onto another conveyor. It's all automatic, but an operator is still required to program the recipe for different pipes, make sure the machine has plenty of pipe on the input side, and make sure it doesn't get logjammed on the way out. I've been out there probably 5 or 6 times, and every time I go there, I work with their saw operator, Nick.

    I get the impression from talking to Nick, that he probably grew up in a trashy place on the wrong side of town. His speech is sort of "ghetto," but I don't hold that against him, because unlike most operators of downed machines who just sit around playing Candy Crush on their phones until something is requested of them or I get the machine running, since the first time I went out, Nick has always been full of questions. A guy with a thirst for knowledge; not very common in kids his age - probably 19 or 20 - and especially not the ones who talk like he talks. He follows me around like a puppy, bugging me about this or that. He seems to be an underachiever - like he's too smart to be a saw operator. I told him that and he agreed, and expressed boredom with his job. He was excited when I told him that you don't need a degree to do my job. He said he was very interested in the inner workings of the machines and that he would like to learn to do what I do.

    I encouraged him to study electronics on his own time, and it was apparent that he had been doing so. I also encouraged him to look for an apprentice technical job, and he said that he was looking. I tried to teach him as much as I could on our short visits and I gave him advice and he told me about his progress on every visit. We talked about some personal things. He told me that he got his girlfriend pregnant and that he had married her with plans of taking care of her and the child. On my last visit, he said that he had gone to the community college and inquired about technical programs and that he was going to enroll in something this fall. He hadn't decided if he was going to go full time, or keep working and take night classes.

    Every time I go back there, I hope Nick isn't there. Not that I don't want to see him, I just hope to see that he's moved on to bigger and better things. I got called out there today, and I was very hopeful this time, since school has started. I was curious to see if he had followed through with his college talk. So I go in, and there's a new operator. I was relieved to see that, and I inquired about Nick. I was told that the reason for his absence was nothing to be happy about; he had recently been shot in the neck by his father in law and was now completely paralyzed.

    Nick's brother and his father in law had gotten into an altercation that escalated into a murder-suicide. Nick tried to break it up before shots were fired, and ended up taking the first bullet - in the neck, I assume in his spine. Then the father in law shot the brother several times in the chest, killing him, then took his own life.

    So now Nick gets to live out the rest of his life, however long that may be, in a bed. He will never be able to talk again, or write on paper. Nobody will ever be bugged by incessant questions, or hear a thing he has to say. A bright spark has been quenched. And his child will grow up without, or without much of a father.

    This is affecting me a lot more profoundly than I would have expected. I've only met Nick a handful of times, but the news hit me as if he were a life-long friend. In hindsight, I sort of viewed this kid almost like a little brother; that may sound a little extreme given the limited extent that I knew him, but I feel that way nonetheless. Having been in a quasi-mentor position over him, I feel like I shared in the responsibility for his success or failure to an extent. I feel that he deserved to have a good life and I would have gone out of my way to help him achieve that, just for the joy I would have taken in seeing him succeed. I'm a sucker for the proverbial "pick yourself up by the bootstraps" story, and I believe that's exactly what he would have done, given the chance.

    Sorry to dump on you guys, but I'm having a hard time with this and I just needed to get it off my chest.
  2. Papabravo


    Feb 24, 2006
    There are things in this world that are beyond your control. No matter how much you want to control your environment you just cannot make it happen. Nick may or may not wish he could change places with his brother. Nick's wife/girlfriend has a double loss and the unborn child certainly has lost a great deal as well.

    Stuff like this happens all day every day all over the world, and you and I should be grateful if it hasn't happened in our dear families -- yet.

    My advice to all is that, the next time you find yourself in an argument -- just let it go. It was a marvelous strategy that my wife and I employed in taking care of my father in law, who had Alzheimer's disease, and passed away last April, because there is literally no point in arguing with a person who has no short term memory. In hindsight three people would be a great deal better off if Nick's brother had just "let it go".
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2013
    killivolt and strantor like this.
  3. tracecom

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 16, 2010
    Sad story, but there's lots of that sort of thing going on. You did the right things with Nick and may have given him some of his best memories. Maybe in time, he would appreciate a visit from you.
    killivolt and strantor like this.
  4. strantor

    Thread Starter AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 3, 2010
    That's good advice. I rarely get in arguments. In 3.5 years we've been married, my wife and I have only ever had 2 screaming/slamming doors type fights, and I attribute one of them was the medication I was on. I don't get in many arguments because I learned through repeated observation (being married to a particularly hard-headed woman) that if saying something once doesn't bring a person to think your way, then saying it again within a short time span at louder volume will not either; if nothing else, it only strengthens their resolve to not see it your way. If you have a disagreement, state your position and then leave it alone. Go away for a bit and think about what the other person said, and they will (probably, hopefully, with enough time) think about what you said. You may realize that their position holds more water than your own; you are wrong - concede and apologize. Or they might do the same.

    In the case that neither side concedes, just give it more time. For those disagreements lasting a period of several days, or weeks or months, try to drop subtle comments that reinforce your position when opportunities arise that provides good examples why your position is correct. If it goes on for a period over several months or years, it's probably permanent, and you just have to find a way to come to a middle ground where neither side concedes but neither side antagonizes the other about it.

    But there are certain circumstances where this is unacceptable, and you have to enforce. But you still don't need harsh words or elevated volume to enforce. For example, my wife does not agree with my policy on discipline with regards to our children, but I refuse to honor her wish that I not punish them. She asks me to show leniency and no matter what tone she uses, I respond with a gentle negative reply. If she gets emotional about it, I let her cool off and then we have the same logic vs. emotion discussion that we have had time and time again. I don't lose my cool. To much surprise, when I tell the kids to do/not do something, they listen. When she tells them something, it's like talking to a brick wall. I illustrate this every time she tells them something, they don't listen, then I tell them the exact same thing and they listen. My subtle suggestions and illustrations have been falling on deaf ears going on 4 years now and it still hasn't sank in for her. Maybe it will eventually, maybe not. But I am not going to change what I'm doing; I feel that I would be remiss in my duty as a father if I did.
    killivolt likes this.
  5. GetDeviceInfo

    Senior Member

    Jun 7, 2009
    not intended to top your story, but;

    I had worked hard at finishing the basement, so the daughter and her boyfriend could move in, as they committed with a builder for their first home, and it would help out with the finances. They had moved in about 3 months ago and things were working well. Two weekends ago he went out with 'the boys' on a rented houseboat for the weekend. We got the call from his sister that he was reported missing and presumed drowned. Attended his memorial on Monday, even though he has still not been recovered. His mother commented on her recurring dream of his body floating in that cold lake. A dream many of us are dealing with.

    When the time is right, visit the young man, and maybe bring a further gift of knowledge.
  6. killivolt

    Active Member

    Jan 10, 2010
    Death is tragic.

    Sharing a tragic circumstance with others brings comfort.

    My condolences, and any who are suffering loss at this time, on AAC.

  7. strantor

    Thread Starter AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 3, 2010
    I'm sorry to hear of your loss. That hits a lot closer to home.
  8. ErnieM

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 24, 2011
    strantor: that is a very sad story on so many levels.
  9. GopherT

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 23, 2012
    Strantor: I am sorry for your loss. I am also a sucker for a self-made man story and a late bloomer making something of himself/herself. I am sorry that you didn't get a chance to watch or assist in his success.

    Thank you for reaching out to someone in need of mentoring. I hope you are willing to do it again when you see someone else with a spark.