Idiots I have known

I was commenting on ManOfError’s blog recently about how thankful I am that we’re all different.  It stops life from getting too boring, and in 50-odd years I have seen a lot of differences.

Idiots keep us amused.  You can look at someone with a comforting sense of superiority when you know he/she’s done something idiotic.

I saw a lot of that in the Army, in the labs where I worked and in schools.

Here’s a (not comprehensive) list

A Bombardier (Corporal in the Royal Artillery) sticks his hand under the fan belt of a running generator to test if it’s tight enough.  We found his fingers up to 50 metres way.

A technician in a hospital laboratory is performing a paediatric faecal fat analysis, the first step of which is to homogenise the total sample of faeces (about 1.5 kg) in a liquidiser.  He adds all the sample, tops up with boiling hot water (the samples are frozen, and the water helps them melt quickly) and switches on the liquidiser motor.  Unfortunately he had completely forgotten to put the lid back on.  The resultant slurry covered him from head to toe.

A student of inquiring mind wanted to know what would happen if he flicked the voltage regulating switch (110/240v) on the back of an operational computer.  He found out it goes BANG.  He also found out it costs him $800.

A senior Warrant Officer(WO) in the Royal Engineers was ordered by a senior and very wealthy Major to make a duck pond on the Major’s private island, so the Major could shoot ducks from his bedroom window.  (Note that senior and wealthy does not equate to sane).  The WO decided to blow the pond out using about 800 kg of ANFO buried in holes distributed around the area.  The explosion moved about 700 tonnes of earth out of the hole.  Straight up.  It came back down, blocking the drainage ditch which previously existed.  The resultant quagmire went down at least 10 feet (because that was the height of the truck that sunk out of sight when driving over it), and the Major (a man of character if not of good sense) was heard to say that he may not have a duck-shooting pond outside his bedroom window, but he had the finest mudhole in Scotland.

A senior member of a school deciding that politeness was so important that it should be taught and modelled.  He suggested that we take our classes out around the school and demonstrate/instruct them about the proper way to pass through doors, using appropriate greetings as we passed.  It was rumoured that he also wanted the students to walk in pairs (probably holding hands)to and from the demonstration sites.  This is not a primary or middle school.  It is a secondary school.  We’re talking about 16 and 17 year olds here.  Luckily cooler heads intervened before the instructions were carried out, so averting the riot and mayhem which would surely have ensued.

Walking through the subterranean tunnels in a hospital in Glasgow, and being shown the digger in the room.  When the hospital was being built, this digger had been used as a temporary brick elevator, and the room had been built around it.

Watching a laboratory technician suddenly shouting, screaming and starting to foam at the mouth.  He had broken safety protocols and had decided to mouth-pipette some concentrated phosphoric acid being used as part of a reagent.  The pipette picked up an air bubble, and the idiot got a mouthful of the phosphoric acid.  He late told me that the most frightening thing was he could actually hear his teeth fizzing as they dissolved.

Another technician making up a phosphate buffer which contained a very low level of cyanide.  He mis-read the instructions in the lab. manual and used 200 g of KCN, not 200mg as prescribed.  Luckily a senior technician passing smelled the hydrogen cyanide  being evolved and evacuated the building before any fatal effects ensued.

Coming down off a mountain in Wales in winter, freezing and soaking wet.  When we reached our base camp, longing for some dry clothes and hot food and drink, we were met by the expedition leader who decided that what we all needed was a good strong half-hour prayer meeting before anything else.  When we protested that we desperately needed the heat and sustenance, he responded with “The Lord will provide”.  He was right you know, the Lord did provide.  The Lord provided 2 cases of pneumonia, 3 of bronchitis and my left hand still gets cramp when I remember the cold.

Going to a rifle range we found that there was insufficient transport available.  Most of the troops would go in the trucks, but 10 of us volunteered to use our private vehicles.  On the way to the range, we developed a bit of a thirst, and made a slight detour to a well-known pub in Glasgow called the Saracen’s Head.  We were in a hurry, so we only stayed for 20 minutes and 3-4 pints each.  Unfortunately we ran into a police alcohol testing exercise.  When the cops opened the boot (after the driver was found to be way over the limit) they found 3 semi-automatic rifles, 30 magazines, 2000 rounds of 7.62mm ball and a machine gun (LMG).  Our Colonel was not happy.


About Kiwidoug

Teacher, father, computer geek, science fiction fan, DIY aficionado, older..older..older.. every day
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