Insane Hydraulics

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Workshop Rage

Bam! A pair of goggles whizzes through the workshop air and hits the wall - "Unbreakable my ass!" - flashing through my mind as I watch the lenses shatter... Bam! A bearing puller flies in the opposite direction and hits something made of wood, or at least the impact sounds like wood... I leave the workshop before I break anything else. Punch a drywall on my way out - "somebody is gonna have to fix it tomorrow..." Breathe-in, breathe-out - urge to kill fading... fading... rising... fading... gone... 

This isn't another episode of American Chopper. Believe it or not, the author of this "emotional explosion" (which happened but a couple of days ago)  is the very guy writing this post on the sensitive matter of workshop rage, which as opposed to the road rage, has never been given much attention and consideration.

When I speak of "workshop rage" - I refer to the explosive manifestation of discontent by a workshop worker, expressed through either high speed projecting of "liftable" workshop equipment or, alternatively, inappropriate and/or generally exaggerated use of the same equipment for "hitting" and "hammering" purposes. Everybody, who worked in a mechanic workshop long enough, has already witnessed or experienced a burst of "workshop rage".

Here's what I think of all this:  Anger is a normal and healthy human emotion. There is no way of stopping bad things from happening, and there will always be unpleasant situations and assholes driving us mad, therefore feeling anger is as inevitable as taxes, however - it is expressing anger that really matters, so as long as you don't express it in a way that can hurt yourself or others, you are doing nothing but being human!

To continue with my point and to make it as clear as possible, I would like to apply a metaphor that's easily understood by oil hydraulics people: stress and anger are just like oil in an accumulator - the more oil in, the higher the pressure inside. Pump too much oil in - and the vessel will burst catastrophically. Vent the oil slowly - and you're safe. Finally - no time to vent the pressure slowly? - Use the emergency pressure discharge! But before you "push the red button" remember to point the jet away from yourself, the audience or, which is even better - avoid the audience at all (read - leave the room)!

The main advice for workshop anger management therefore is - find a needle valve to discharge your accumulator and use it when needed (I personally jog, read books, code and play GTA4). But if you have to go nuts - do it responsibly, and direct your destructive burst to cheap and replaceable things rather than yourself and, God forbid, your co-workers. Angry is one thing, violent is completely opposite and completely unacceptable!

Now - a short "emergency pressure discharge" story from my past, which I like telling a lot (I honestly don't remember if I already mentioned this tale in one of my previous posts, but if I did I still think it's worth repeating here), and which still brings smile to my face whenever I recall it.

Long-long time ago I was employed at a company which was producing and servicing industrial fishing hydraulic equipment, like winches, cranes and what not... And that sunny morning our foreman (my good friend till today) was taking apart an old purse seine winch. If you never worked with used marine equipment - take my word for it - rust and sea salt make any disassembly an unpleasant endeavor involving lots of sledgehammering, torching and cursing.

So there he was - with a reasonably-sized sledgehammer in his hands, pissed off at the stubborn part he'd been trying to wedge out for the last two hours. I could tell by the vein on his forehead that his patience was running out with every blow - and finally - the "bubble burst". With a roar that would make the king Leonidas himself jealous, he vigorously swung the hammer over his head and hit the wedge as hard as it was humanly possible! Unfortunately the hammer stroke the wedge with the wooden handle just below the steel head, which immediately broke off and flew away at the speed of light - leaving the man clenching a lonely stick with a splintered head. He stared at it for a second or two, and then with an even louder roar (which sounded kind of like a Portuguese equivalent of "you f@#&ing bastard!!!) he projected the handicap handle in a random direction! Tough luck he had, because the handle crashed smack dub in the middle of a bag containing several bottles of expensive wine - the same very bag that he had lovingly stored under his work bench earlier that day to protect the fragile vessels from the "harsh workshop environment". It took me several sentences to describe the circus - but in real life it was a continuous single action that lasted no more than four seconds -  A-a-a-a! - Bum! - Crack! - You f@#&ing bastard!!! - A-a-a! - Bum! Smack!..

I had to flee to the locker room to prevent my sides from splitting in front of the poor guy! I laughed hysterically for full ten minutes before I could go back to the workshop, where I found the "hero" mopping the floor and mourning the wine - in a much, much calmer state of mind...

See? "Emergency venting" is a fast and effective way to calm down, but carries risks of unexpected expenses, and therefore should only be used in "emergency" situations and preferrably away from "general workshop population".