I'm not sure this belongs in this category, but I sure did learn a lesson. I was the cheap man not giving credence to what a pipe fitter told me. I wasn't paying him the respect he deserved.




I had field sketched an iso for modifications at a small stripping tower to add an exchanger in the feed line. As it sometimes happens, the nozzles weren't on the natural axis, but rotated which made the drawing difficult. When it was done, I was proud of it; a real work of art. I transmitted it to construction with a confidence that wasn't warranted.




The pipe fitter that was assigned the project came to me and said he thought something was wrong. Could it be the North arrow wasn't correct? I knew that drawing well and assured him that it was correct. So he left and did the modifications.


Later, when it was done, I went to do the as-built. There it was, a real work of art in steel, just the way I had visualized it and had drawn it. But then I unfolded the drawing. Talk about being humbled! I felt so little that I could walk under a door rather than open it. The 'fitter was correct; my visualization was good, but the drafting skills were terrible. He was actually being polite when he suggested the north arrow was wrong. Not only was that off 180 degrees, but also I had the east/west directions reversed. To his credit, he had done it correctly.



I immediately looked him up on the job site when I finished the drawing to apologize. He acted as if it were no big thing. I believe he was thinking he had expected nothing better; what could you expect from an office person?



That was the start of a valuable part of my piping education. I took more notice of the trades and learned a lot about piping and human nature. I was with a foreman who answered a trigonometry problem for one of his crews with a piece of soapstone on the side of a wide flange. I would have had to go back to my calculator. When asked, he willingly taught me some of his "tricks."



I wasn't a "rookie" or a "cub" on that job. I had had several years of experience but still learned a valuable lesson: others can be more right than I. Another lesson I learned: humble pie doesn't taste good.



Dennis Novotny


© 23 December 2000