“Hey there, do I know you? No, not you; you, the one trying to solder those two pieces of ¾ PVC together. No, I must have you confused with someone else, but while I’m here, I think we should talk. Did you ever work with PVC before? No, that’s what that white pipe in your hand is called. Here, look, do you see the way that the torch is melting that pipe all over your shoe? Yeah, that white, smokin’ plastic running across your Timberlands? And you’re having a problem with that SilverBrite taking, aren’t you? Well, they have words for that technique and techs with skills like yours, but I don’t think I am allowed to use them here. No, hey, STOP THAT, you don’t need a bigger tip, just sit down and listen, but put out the fire first. And you better put the dog out, too. Yeah, in the back around his tail…”

I hear you laughing, you know that guy, don’t you? He works with you, or you saw him on some big jobsite, or he is you. Unfortunately, in this industry that guy is everywhere. For some reason known only to the service gods, we neglect to teach our greenhorns the basics of our business. Yet, we toss them out there to fix/install/repair something, only to scratch our heads in amazement when they fail. Of course, we won’t miss an opportunity to blast their eardrums into oblivion first.

For much of my career, I managed a large installation department consisting of anywhere from three to 12, two-man crews. We replaced furnaces, boilers, a/c systems, water heaters, etc, along with some new construction work. As you can imagine, I have more than a few stories to tell, just like every one of you that has been doing this for more than a day. In fact, so many that I wrote a book about it, called “101 Ways to Suck As An HVAC Tech” (you can find it on www.amazon.com). In all fairness, we all make mistakes and have bad days, but these are a little worse than usual. You know, like when you drill a pilot hole…., through the service cable and set the house on fire. In general, I think that’s a bad idea.

So, that’s my story; well, actually that’s just the beginning. Every week I’d like to tell you about one of these little teaching moments, and perhaps we can all learn something. I hope you’ll join me and have some fun with it all, and remember not to take life too seriously. It’s just too short. Oh, and I’d be more than happy to hear any of your “classics” from the field, or general comments which you can send to richardjschuster@gmail.com.