Re: An observation about the writer-engineer relationship

Subject: Re: An observation about the writer-engineer relationship
From: "Donna Melton" <donna -at- emelton -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 18:36:29 -0700

>Yet when it comes to dealing with any sort of mechanical device around
>the office--a printer or copier, a coffee maker, an adjustable chair, a
> the dishwasher, you name it--or any sort of software glitch--it's the
>engineers who stand around dazed and confused and the writer types (or
>the IT guys, who generally are high school or tech school grads) who walk
>over and fix the damn thing.

How about the theory that some people just do it because they grew up that
way? At our house, if we didn't do it (whatever "it" was), it didn't get
done because we couldn't afford to have someone else do it. My dad was an
electronics engineer (and not a writer), and he did everything--built
furniture, fixed the cars, fabricated all sorts of things made up of
blinking lights and lighted switches (the "on" button for the stereo cabinet
he made was a push-button switch that said "Fire." He worked for the
Department of Defense), and built a house (including plumbing, wiring,
sheetrocking, etc). When we were kids we had no experience pulling wire
through open studs, or gluing plumbing joints (or any other crappy job we
didn't want to do as kids), but we were told to do it and shown how, so we
did. My mom, brothers, me, and most people on both sides of the family are
all the same way, for the same reason. We couldn't afford to have someone
re-side our house, so I did it myself. Had I ever done it before? No, but I
can read, observe, and ask questions (interview SMEs). Did I want to do it?
No, but now it's done (well, almost). I wouldn't try to perform a root canal
on myself, but when we need a new roof we'll probably do it ourselves. This
all sounds just a bit self-rightious, so I must mention that all of the
above was done accompanied by a fair amount of bitching and whining. You
should have heard me putting up the siding. Maybe you did.


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