“…nerve wreaking moments caused by a cigar and one leaders learning from trouble shooting.”
written by Vivek Mishra and edited by Wayne Brown
“This industry is like a bug. Once you get it in your blood you just have it”.
These are the wise words that one of my seniors showered upon me when I was just a toddler in the industry. And this is true to the core, holding good even till today after more than 35 years. Perhaps it will continue for eternity.
The journey has been exhilarating and rewarding….
I have seen people from various other industries switching companies, even careers, at the bat of an eyelid, but rarely does the initiated elevator person leave the fold.
I’m very grateful to this field which has given me so much opportunity to learn, travel, live on the edge, celebrate, and rejoice.
Having held various positions and profiles in different elevator companies, I’ve found the journey challenging, joyous, and financially rewarding.
During my career, I’ve had the opportunity to engage with people from all walks of life. Internally on job sites with engineers, charge hands, even top executives. External to the organization, politicians, police, judges and hoteliers, bureaucrats, doctors, and real estate developers, naming just a few.
However, there have been those nerve-wracking moments experienced while under the spotlight too.
I’ve had some very interesting experiences during this fulfilling career. One such time is worth elaborating here.
It happened when I was oven-fresh and had just stepped into the ring.
Mystery and intrigue pursued ….
We had a maintenance job site with some 30 odd units in an army officer’s housing complex. I was there to undergo service training as a part of my orientation.
There came a callback at the dead of one winter night – a landing push button on the main entrance lobby was malfunctioning in one of the blocks.
Well, something of a routine nature, as was told by the site personnel. I attended the fault on an equally routine level. It happened the next night around same time again in the same block. Again, it was attended to in the stereotyped manner.
And it happened yet again in a similar fashion, in the same block for a third consecutive night, this time almost the same as the previous two-night calls.
By now, the situation was attracting some attention for my company as well as the client.
Image is a similar type but not an identical button.
A thorough inspection revealed that the call buttons were getting burnt from outside with a hole in them.
These were the white/black/yellow and red-colored, hard plastic/resin buttons used by the industry in those days. Some more deliberation and analysis also pointed to a pattern with the timing of the calls.
Something smelled bad with this whole episode.
Deputized (as youngest of the group), I would stay at the scene the following night and watch the happenings.
Well, I did stay put, but nothing significant happened. Some officers and their families came back home early in the night, later that night, and even very early morning as well.
Whoa, another similar callback! ….
There were no CCTVs back then, so no trace of who came or went. Therefore, I had to depend upon my memory to rewind the mystery.
And it appeared to me like a flash of light. A lone officer had walked in around midnight, around the usual time of the fault occurring. But how he could create the problem was a mystery.
I was at the job again the next night, and this time the whole mystery unfolded.
An officer had recently moved into that building on a transfer. He would go to the club in the evening after work and have a few drinks with dinner. Then return home around midnight and, before going into the block, would light up a cigar which he would use, from the lit end, to register the call.
Nerve wreaking moments caused by a cigar and one leaders learning from trouble shooting that followed.
The burning cigar was creating a hole and naturally destroying the button. The incident then resulted in a callback.
When confronted, he shrugged and remarked, “the holes never happened back in London where I went for a training.”
And so, to my career learnings ….
A note from the host, Wayne
Thanks, Vivek. I love these stories where we can all relate – a former time and place in our careers. I’m sure many of you are sitting back reading this that can recall equally intriguing times and would love to share them. If so, please go to the bottom of this page and complete the form. We love hearing about them just as much as we’re sure you would love to share them.
Until then stay safe and keep learning!