Sep 1, 2017

I Don't Mean to be Condescending

This old guy seems to have forgotten that today's young whipper snapper just may be his boss tomorrow.  Reminds me of an experience early in my engineering career...

As a rookie engineer, I had completed the structural design for a large custom home in Las Vegas.  A plan check letter came back from the building department with a requirement that dozens of straps be added in unusual and completely unnecessary locations.  My supervisor agreed with me that there was no structural reason for adding those straps.  Nevertheless, I couldn't get the plan checker to acquiesce.  In desperation, I went to the building department to discuss the issue face to face with the plan checker.  When I asked him to help me understand why these straps were needed, he offered no explanation other than to condescendingly sneer down at me and exclaim, "That's engineering!" as if to imply, "Everyone that knows anything knows that."  Out of desperation to get building department sign-off, I reluctantly added the unnecessary straps to the plans.  In a gratifying twist of karma, several years later when my own structural engineering firm had grown to be one of the largest in the region, that same plan checker sent me his resume looking for a job.  He was not hired.

Whenever I'm inclined to treat someone less than well, I try to remember the words of the poem by C. R. Gibson:

                        "I have wept in the night
                         At my shortness of sight
                         That to other's needs made me blind,
                         But I never have yet
                         Felt a twinge of regret
                         For being a little too kind."