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Original thread:
Post 1 made on Tuesday June 6, 2006 at 05:56
RC Moderator
August 2001
Being British is about driving in a German car to an Irish pub for a Belgian beer, and then travelling home, grabbing an Indian curry or a Turkish kebab on the way, to sit on Swedish furniture and watch American shows on a Japanese TV.

And the most British thing of all?

Suspicion of anything foreign.

As you've probably gathered, I've been a little bored of late so I've taken to trawling the internet for some "Engineering Humour". (Yes I know the above isn't anything to do with engineering, but I did find it on a seemingly new engineering forum).

Unfortunately, my search has been a little disappointing, insofar as I've found little that appears to be original - or, at least, original to me. However, the following, somewhat apocryphal story, did catch my eye.

Engineer to the Rescue

There was an engineer who had an exceptional gift for fixing all things mechanical. After serving his company loyally for over 30 years, he happily retired. Several years later the company contacted him regarding a seemingly impossible problem they were having with one of their multi-million dollar machines.

They had tried everything and everyone else to get the machine to work but to no avail. In desperation, they called on the retired engineer who has solved so many of their problems in the past.

The engineer reluctantly took the challenge. He spent a day studying the huge machine. At the end of the day, he marked a small "x" in chalk on a particular component of the machine and stated, "This is where your problem is". The part was replaced and the machine worked perfectly again. The company received a bill for $50,000 from the engineer for this service. They demanded an itemized accounting of his charges.

The engineer responded briefly:

  • One chalk mark $1

  • Knowing where to put it $49,999

It was paid in full and the engineer retired again in peace.

The reason for my reprinting it here is that whilst it is unlikely to completely true it is possible for there to be a grain of truth in it. Take, for example, this tale . . .

In a reasonably large factory there's a machine that requires a team (crew) of about half a dozen people to operate it. Being such a large machine itself there are a number of safety features incorporated, one of which being several CCTV's; these being located in areas where the "driver" of the machine cannot directly see other members of the crew.

One day one of the CCTV monitors fails - nothing but "snow" on the screen - so an engineer was called. On approach the engineer was seen to be a little annoyed because, as per normal, most of the crew had now congregated in machine's control room; not the most convivial of atmospheres in which to diagnose and repair faults. Further piqued by the "witty" banter upon opening the control room door, he walks straight over to the monitor, gives it an almighty thwack on side and the picture is immediately restored. He turns to walk out, but prior to leaving he is asked by one of the astounded crew, "Is that what you're paid all that money for?" He replied, "Well, you've got to know where to hit it."

Unlike the first tale I know for a fact that the latter one is true. I was the "Engineer".

Last edited by djy on June 6, 2006 06:17.

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