Sunday, November 20, 2011

My Uncle Al's Rivets:


An anecdote from my Uncle Al sticks in mind, perhaps because of the understandable unfairness. Perhaps it will bother you, too.


Uncle Al was born in 1904. While in college, he worked a summer job on a Manhattan construction site, a moderate high-rise. His job was to test the rivets that had been driven into the steel, for strength and reliability. After a few days, one of the construction workers approached him.
“Kid, you're failing too many rivets.”
Al explained to the worker that his test was entirely objective. He measured the strength of the rivet, and if it was below a certain value, he failed the rivet. (Failed rivets had to be replaced.)
The worker shook his head and wandered away.
Next morning,” Al said, “a bucket of rivets fell out of the sky and landed right next to me with a bang. I looked up at the workers far above me, on the upper floors.”
Al paused, and then he said, “After that, I didn’t fail so many rivets.”
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