In a former life, Your Humble Scribe was an electronic service engineer. I wasn’t electronic – the things I fixed were. I lasted ten years before walking AWAY – before I lost my mind.
The first five years, I repaired juke boxes, video juke boxes, background music systems, video-game machines, trivia machines and fruit machines. The pay was lousy, as were the hours – but it was occasionally good fun.
For the next five years, it was traffic control systems – mostly traffic-light controllers and signals. The pay was better – but the hours were still lousy and it was no fun at all. I was just another wage-whore.
But both jobs had their MOMENTS.
There was the time I’d been working on this juke box in this pub. It was one of those joints which is DEAD without its jukebox. So having fixed it, I CUED UP a record that has a BIG first note (I used to be a deejay) then jacked up the volume and with a flourish – SLAMMED the lid.
And since all juke boxes have an over-ride switch under the lid which switches their mech on (in case some dozy record-changer forgets) I knew the disk would POWER on exactly one second after the lid made contact.
So as I SLAMMED the lid, causing all the customers to WHIRL around, I turned and THREW my hands out like a messiah and WHAMMO – the music BLASTED out of it. A CHEER went up and I took a Shakespearean bow! A great moment.
Another was one of those opportunities that comes once in a lifetime. It was nearly 11 pm and I was heading to a country pub, through a major STORM. As I drove, I noticed the gaps between the flashes of lightning and the resulting peals of thunder were getting CLOSER. I began timing them.
It was obviously a small, concentrated storm, as the gaps were regular and well-defined. Ten seconds. Nine seconds. As the gap reached six seconds, I pulled into the pub’s car-park. I walked across to the old, heavy wooden door – and waited. Finally, a HUGE flash. I counted to four, then THREW the door in, so it CRASHED open, once again causing everyone to spin around.
Framed in the doorway, I struck a pose – and right on cue, the thunder went KERRRR-ACK-BOOMMMM!!!
It was just like in a Hammer movie! The pub’s customers were GOBSMACKED!
Sadly, my traffic-light days provided no such entertainment. The only memorable moment was when I found myself perched up a ladder, fixing a pole-cap terminal box, atop a signal that was bent at a crazy angle.
It was a rural site, where some thirty minutes earlier, a truck had lost control on the curve that formed the approach to this particular signal – and PLOUGHED INTO IT. The truck had just been removed and I was now alone.
The reason it had lost control was the road had been wet. Which it STILL WAS. And as I looked down, I could see the two deep furrows the truck’s front wheels had made in the grass – one each side of the huge DENT in the bottom of the pole I WAS ON TOP OF.
Out loud, I cried, “What the HELL AM I DOING UP HERE?”
I retired shortly afterwards…