The past couple of days have been highly stressful for me. I have sometimes fleetingly pondered the point in me having pursued a course in engineering, but never have I felt so certain that I had taken the wrong decision. To help you understand, let me rush you through the years spent in attempting to make an engineer out of me.
I’ld like to think I was a bright chap, but you wouldn’t have any of my professors agreeing. I’ve been shouted at, cursed, thrown out, not let in, stared at in disbelief and even laughed at, but I think my only problem was my attention span. You know how it is- hot day, monotonous lecture, large tree outside window, before you know it, the rustling of the tree’s leaves, its gentle slumber and the dignity of its stance, all seem enrapturing, or more interesting than the lecture at any rate. And so I spent all my classes, the ones I didn’t sleep through that is.
But in the meanwhile, the seeds of the current storm were being sown. Through the first couple of years of my engineering course, I’ve had my parents or neighbours ask me about ratings for electric appliances, or about ones that weren’t functioning well and so on, but I just gave a good natured laugh and told them we hadn’t got to it yet in class. The problem with that answer was, I truly believed it.
My present troubles started with the tube lights in the living room, one of which apparently didn’t function. As we were watching the TV, suddenly the room grew a lot brighter. We discovered that a single switch actually controlled both tube lights, the other had simply chosen to turn on only at the present moment. Although I shrugged it off, it seemed to bother my kid brothers, both of whom wanted to know why the tube light hadn’t turned on earlier. I mentioned something about a choke, but turning the switch off and on again disproved that particular theory. In fact successive theories were disproved following several throws of the switch. Finally I managed to pacify them saying the tube light was probably faulty. Although I was in the clear for the present time, I could sense a general suspicion about my knowledge of electrical and electronics.
Two days ago, our net connection failed. Being placed in a networks company, I liked to read about future trends for such companies. Having passed on several pieces of information thus found, I’d left my family thinking I knew networking quite well. Although my profile had little to do with networking directly, I’d let the impression linger. Big mistake.
As soon as they discovered the problem, my brothers asked me to fix it and left to have lunch, the assumption I think, was that I’ld fix it up in no time. and join them for lunch. So they were quite surprised to see me follow them, without having fixed the connection, but I got away saying I was hungry. Post lunch, I gave the device all my attention, but to no avail. Just when my brothers were beginning to ask uncomfortable questions about my job designation, I had a brainwave- I decided to call the helpline. Explaining to my brothers, that the disruption was initiated by a fault from the service provider, I rang up the helpline and found someone who helped me fix the device. I had escaped, only barely.
The incident that shook me up most of all happened later that day. Our TV suddenly didn’t display any channel. This time the entire family was waiting as I was called to sort it out. After doing what I could- I checked if the power supply was on- I told them there was something wrong with the satellite receiver (praying that it wasn’t the TV that had actually conked off). Sometime after we’d given the receiver for servicing, we received a call confirming that the receiver indeed had a problem. My heart leapt as my dad announced this, but I should have known the joy would be short lived as he continued that the guy was asking for what my dad believed to be the price of the receiver just to fix it, and wanted me to find out the reason. I rang him up, with some vague plan of pleading with him to reduce the cost, but with my family deciding to watch on, I had to come up with something else, and fast.
The maintenance guy presently answered the phone, and I asked him why he was charging an exorbitant rate. He replied that several parts were badly damaged and he’d have a lot of trouble finding them and putting them together. An explanation that satisfied me, but I knew was not good enough to report to the family. I persevered and pressed him further, to which he replied that the condenser and the capacitor were burnt up. Suddenly something struck me. Words from the past that had almost slipped out of memory. I enquired if the two were not the same thing. Silence. I knew I had struck gold!
But even after having got the receiver back, my dad’s wallet pretty much intact, I cannot rest easy. We have a fridge, a microwave oven and a few AC’s at home, and it worries me that any of these or some other unsuspected device may break down. But amidst my personal worries comes this blog to salute all those engineers who actually know their stuff. Oh, and if you fall into that category, please answer just this- in which year did they teach about tube lights?