Actually, this isn't exactly one of these stories, but I started it the same way. I can understand the direct result of an owner (or project manager) having to pay more because they cut the wrong part of the budget. And I can personally relate to "the cheap man" paying twice because in real life that is me. I am basically frugal (cheap) and have spent most of my life buying the "as good as" items from calculators to pencils to programs to appliances, etc. And usually I do pay twice in the end; either the product or service didn't do exactly what was needed or it didn't last. And sometimes it was just plain hard to use as in the case of calculators or programs.

Where am I going with this? I sometimes wonder about the justice of the cheap man paying twice. Many times I have paid the twice price in labor for the "cheap man" who didn't check the iso thoroughly or keep track of all lines and instruments on a P&ID or any of the many other "shortcuts" to save time that don't really do that; they just shift the work on to another person. Who cares about their fellow worker anyway?

What brings this to mind is all the stories. I thought it would be easy to write about others paying for their mistakes, but I keep remembering me (and friends) paying for the others' cost-cuttings. This is one of those and I need to get it out of my system:

It was a hot summer (it's always a hot summer or cold winter when things happen - never perfect weather) in West Virginia and I was doing field piping design for a portion of the project as well as being the interface with construction for the office design. There was a small tank farm being re-piped for a different service and we had good drawings for a change. It should have been easy except for the office not taking care and doing a thorough check. Regardless of the "Field Verify" note on the drawings, the spools were fabricated with only a cursory check. (I just realized that they were the "cheap man" also and paid for their lack of checking.) Anyway, each and every time a spool wouldn't fit, I would get a call to "come look." I'd walk the mile from the trailer to the site, arrive covered with sweat, and say, "Yep, it sure don't fit." Then it would be corrected.

I wasn't needed legally or technically to do correction, it was just the fitter crew getting even (with the wrong person.) I was happy when that job was over and my list of persons I never wanted to work with again got longer. (Does anyone else keep this type of mental list?)

I don't have a "moral," just a fact: there are a lot of times you pay for others being cheap (or lazy.)

Dennis Novotny

© 27 November 2000

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