Thursday, August 30, 2012

After Trying It All

It should have been an ordinary run. Start at the tool supply place (rent or buy), load the special kind of saw in the back, drive to meet the on-site electrical workers, working on some project beneath the sidewalk in downtown Minneapolis, swap saws with them and bring the other one back. A phone number is included in case you can't locate the exact person on site.

It worked fine through the loading the old saw in my car and take out the new-to-them saw part.  Then the guy actually looked at the saw he was getting. He asked me to wait, refusing to sign for the new one until he checked out if it was going to work for him.

First he had to figure out if the different hose coupling would match what he had. I guessed from that and the fact that there was already one hole in the sidewalk that this saw was a concrete cutting one, where water was needed during the cut. Once he removed a weird looking coupling from his hose, the fitting on the new saw hooked up just fine. Apparently the old saw needed something to adapt it to a standard garden hose. This one didn't. A standard hose was what it was made for.

But he wasn't done yet. Would it start? He set it on the ground, braced part of it under his boot, and started pulling on the starter cord. No go. Was there a choke? Didn't seem to be. He checked it over twice. Still no go. It made plenty of noise, just didn't catch.

At this point dispatch called, inquiring how I was doing and letting me know he had a hot one that would work with my return run, and it paid $90. Seeing no start yet on the saw, I let him know what was going on and why no signature yet. I now had a major incentive to lose patience.

"Is there gas in it?"

While he stopped to check, he muttered something about not believing he hadn't looked at that first. It was full. Still no start.

"Got a pocket knife?"

As he gave me a look, I suggested the spark plug might be fouled and need a quick scrape to remove the carbon, something I'd had plenty of practice with many years ago working for a landscaping/lawn maintenance company. The boss was cheap, and a scrape was better for the bottom line than a new plug.

Out came the socket/ratchet  case, and after going through about 8 sockets he finally found one that was "good enough". Apparently it didn't have an actual spark plug socket in the set. But the plug was fine, so he put that back together. While all that was happening, a pair of women with babies/toddlers stopped to talk with him, flirting quite a bit. Apparently they thought he was fine. At least he didn't slow down too much while holding up his end of the conversation.

He apologized for taking so long, acknowledging my need to go do other stuff. I agreed, informing him that it was time for a decision: accept or refuse the saw and send it back? He indicated he would be refusing, and while I prepared the paperwork, he called his boss to let him know what was going on so another saw could be ordered. Then he pulled the old saw back out of my car - it at least ran, though it stopped under pull - and put the new one in. I didn't ask what good the old saw was if it stopped running just when it was being used, fearing a lengthy explanation. I was already running late. After I reminded him about the hose parts that needed to go with the refused saw,  he added those and signed.

Finally! As I drove off, I called dispatch to inform them so they could inform the customer, the tool supplier, what was going on.

By the time I rolled up to my starting point with the customer, the department head walked out to meet me. He wanted to see this malfunctioning saw for himself. I explained all the electrical guy had done to try to get it to start, and before I quite finished, it was roaring along quite nicely. No problems.

But I had noticed one thing the tool company guy had done that the electrical guy hadn't. Before pulling the cord, he grabbed the handle of the saw and included a little trigger in his grip. This saw had a dead-man switch! You let go or don't grab it in the first place, this saw won't run. Great safety precaution.

Apparently a good intelligence test as well.

Unfortunately, for the customer at least, I was now unavailable to repeat the round trip, returning a perfectly good saw along with instructions on its use. I had a $90 run to complete going the other way.

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