July 16, 2010.
Usually when I’m at work, I’m alone. There may be others on the boat but that’s the nature of working on boats, space is limited and you’ve got your own little piece of the boat. I can be in the engine room, up the mast or under the helm station, others may be around but it’s me and my project.
Today while working in the engine room of a large power yacht there was a bit of a commotion above me on the main deck. I just had to poke my head up and see what was going on. Mistake, mine.
That was where I was sucked from my uncomfortable, solitary spot in the engine room into the black hole of a co worker’s clusterfuck. This co worker who I’ll call Dullard was tasked with removing and replacing the ship’s refrigerator/ freezer with a new unit.
There was nothing wrong with the old unit and upon closer inspection I found it to be as clean as a new one and in perfect working condition. It was literally showroom spotless. It was a large upright unit just a little smaller than one used in a house. The captain’s wife wanted a new one, it’s her galley, so she’s getting one that she picked out. This left Dullard with the job of removing a pristine, working fridge and plugging in a new one.
The hitch in this simple plan was that the old unit didn’t fit out the entryway of the boat. The doors and some framing needed to be removed from the fridge so it could be squeezed out of the boat. This is where the noise that had drawn me from the bilge came in. Rather than use a screwdriver and carefully disassemble the front of the fridge, Dullard decided to use a large hammer and chisel. Mistake, his. By the time I came up and saw the fridge it looked as if it had been used as a hood ornament on a demolition derby car. He took a perfect fridge that would have served some other boater for years to come and completely destroyed it.
As I processed the scene before me I asked Dullard a question, “Have you measured the new fridge to make sure that you can get it into the boat?” This was definitely my favorite part of the day. It was awesome to watch him receive and process my question. It was met with a little cock of his head so that I could tell immediately it had never occurred to him. Then there was the classic clouding of the eyes as he realized he might have just beat the shit outta the only fridge that was ever gonna fit in here….
He scurried away to his truck to measure the new fridge while I finished up in the engine room. I was just about done when he came and confirmed my fears. The only way it was going to fit was with some heavy duty disassembly which would void the warrantee on the new unit. Dullard called the ships owner and was told to “go for it” as the owner wanted his admiral to be happy. Of course, I don’t think Dullard told him the old fridge was already scrap, so we got lucky.
I listened patiently as Dullard outlined his plan for getting the new unit aboard. Then I told him “No”. Dullard is older than I am with more seniority in the company so I have this natural compulsion to defer to him but I had to draw the line somewhere. The new fridge was in its box, mounted atop a pallet and he wanted to manhandle the whole shebang into the cockpit. The box had to lift off the fridge and the ceiling was only 2 feet over our heads, not to mention that we’d have all this extra crap in the confines of the cockpit. Of course, he could cut the box away in the cockpit but there was no chance I would let Dullard near the new fridge with a box knife.
So I put my foot down and we humped the naked fridge onto the swim platform and up into the cockpit. Once there we removed the doors and trim plates with a screwdriver rather than the tried and true method of the hammer and chisel.
Once stripped the fridge fit nicely into the boat. The project then became mine as Dullard had adopted a supervisory role. I don’t mind as it’s a lot easier to do it myself than it is to watch him “Cro-Magnon” his way through it. I reassembled the fridge and prepared to wire it into the system.
The old fridge lived in a blind hole so in order to pull it out the wiring had to have a 4 foot service loop to enable the fridge to be pulled out while still plugged in. So when the old fridge was pulled out there were basically 3 choices as to where to cut the wires. You could be an idiot and cut the wires as far back into the recess as possible, you could cut them right at the back of the fridge you were planning to destroy or you could be wishy washy and incapable of making a decision and cut them in the middle.
So, where would you guess that Dullard cut the wires? That’s right, the idiot cut them as far back as he could, practically flush with the bulkhead. Predictably the wires on the new fridge were only a foot long so I had to go get the wires from the old fridge and piece them together. The icing on the cake for me was when I realized that Dullard had never shut the power to the fridge off, before cutting the wires. That’s right, Sparky’s in the house.
At this point Dullard thought it might be better if he left. As he left I waved goodbye. He dutifully returned my wave. I was really just checking to see if he actually had opposable thumbs. I’m always surprised when I see him walking upright.
The fridge is in, the captain’s beer is cold, the admiral is happy and tomorrow is another day.