T&D World Magazine
Solve This: Getting a Rain Check

Solve This: Getting a Rain Check

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Several years ago, two electricians, George and Phil, were working along with several others in the control room of the Hinterland Electric 345kV substation right outside the little mountain town of Skinhead, Colorado. The area is nationally known for unpredictable storms and violent winds and, sure enough, a downpour of heavy rain was going on, along with flashes of lightning and deafening thunder.

Phil, the senior electrician, had the control panel open and realized that he had left his brand new multimeter in the truck which was parked on the other side of the switchyard several hundred feet away. A large sinkhole (unrepaired for 11 years due to Hinterland’s austerity program) prevented the truck from being parked any closer.

“George, put down your coffee and run out to the truck and grab my meter,” shouted Phil above the thunder. “And don’t let it get wet.”

“Well, I don’t think I should exactly ‘run’,” sarcastically replied George, who had become increasingly argumentative after watching the three part television series on ‘The Philosophy of Thought and Being’. “I've actually meditated a bit on the best way to move through rain. Running will collect more rain drops on my front, where I’m holding the meter. And I don’t have a coat or anything to cover it. So I should walk at a casual pace.”

“Are you nuts?” shouted Phil. “If you run you’ll be out in the rain for less time and the meter will get less wet. You'll also have a better chance of not getting fried by a lightning bolt! Now skedaddle.”

“Wait!” said Tom, always the practical but thoughtful electrical engineer, who had been quietly listening. “Why don’t you...” But his voice was cut off by sustained thunder and the wind driven rain pelting the sides on the control room.

Tom repeated what he said and Phil and George grudgingly agreed that the several suggestions sounded practical. The multimeter was retrieved with just a few drops of rain on the case.

Later that year Phil took an early retirement package only to come back as a highly paid contractor. After winning a labor related lawsuit (no details available) George left Hinterland Electric to open a Tai Chi studio in a trailer park right outside the Skinhead town limits. Tom was such a great engineer and so good at what he did that the company didn't dare promote him and to this day he spends his time in the wind, rain, hail and snow along Hinterland Electric’s vast transmission network.

Question: What might have been some of Tom’s suggestions? 

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