Real Engineers
by Paul Niquette
Personal Response to a Much-Forwarded Message.
Copyright ©1998 by Paul Niquette. All rights reserved.

 >>>> Real Engineers consider themselves well dressed if their socks match.
Obviously, the Real Engineers being bashed here are not of the distaff persuasion. Otherwise, mention might have been made of the technological advantages of pantyhose, which include the fact that each sock is assured to match the other. 

Not to brag, but I have several pairs of mismatched socks. It is a mathematical truism that such pairs inevitably match other such pairs. Permit me to inquire: Where does it say that socks should match each other only in pairs and not in pairs of pairs?  How curious, however, that as a Real Engineer endowed with the standard complement of two feet, I have accumulated several matching triples. 

>>>> Real Engineers buy their spouses a set of matched screwdrivers for their birthday.

Restricted to sequential matrimonies, Real Engineers do not have `spouses'.  If ever I am allowed contemporaneous spouses, then and only then will I consider matched screwdrivers as appropriate gifts. That assertion has to do more with domestic tranquility than taste.  Same for matched drafting machines and Leroy sets, allidades and spirules, oscilloscopes and logic analyzers.

>>>> Real Engineers wear moustaches or beards for efficiency. Not because they're lazy.

How ironic that beneficiaries of, say, the automobile with its power steering and cruise control, its electric windows and doorlocks -- those same benighted souls whose idea of challenging work is to operate a pop-top beer-can or to heft a package of popcorn into a microwave oven, who point and click their way through cyberlife, who poke `re-dial' on their phones and, while reclining a-couch, finger up all manner of remote commands for their TVs and VCRs, their stereos and CD-players -- they are the ones who apparently consider these and all other conveniences to be merely ineluctable visitations upon our world from some distant, ethereal Intelligence. 

Well, I have news for them.  All such things derive from the sensitivity we share for the intrinsic laziness of mankind; accordingly, the Real Engineer, in his eagerness to see his products meet the demands of an effete population at large, must commit himself to mind-labors of the highest order, renouncing self-indulgences, including the act of shaving. Unless the Real Engineer is a woman, of course. 

>>>> Real Engineers have a non-technical vocabulary of 800 words.

Of which exactly 638 are recognized by Real Engineers as being required for expressing important matters on useful subjects. The remaining 162 words are included in the total for the solitary purpose of providing a contingency against errors of estimation -- decidedly not intended as an undeserved overstatement of our word-power.  We would be the last to misrepresent our respective vocabularies as being typified by magnitudes out of proportion to actuality.  By the way, as a Real Engineer, I do not use big words like `exaggeration'.

>>>> Real Engineers think a 'biting wit' is their fox terrier.

How unkind and gender-disparaging! The implication is that Real Engineers obtain their matrimonial partners, figuratively speaking, from the local kennel.  On the contrary, the wife of a Real Engineer is invariably gorgeous and talented, counting herself exceedingly fortunate precisely for the reason that her own attempts at jocularity are tolerated by her husband, who is often unfairly accused of being unable to recognize `wit' even when bitten by it.

>>>> Real Engineers know the second law of thermodynamics -- but not their own shirt size.

Shirts have sizes?  Colors, sure, and styles. But sizes? I consulted all my thermodynamics texts and find no mathematical formulas for shirt sizes.

>>>> Real Engineers repair their own cameras, telephones, televisions, watches, and automatic transmissions.

And those of friends, too. That's why Real Engineers have friends.  If our own things are not broken and we have no friends, we would have to break our own things one by one. "If it ain't broke," we say, "break it."

>>>> Real Engineers say "It's 70 degrees Fahrenheit, 25 degrees Celsius, and 298 degrees Kelvin" and all you say is "Isn't it a nice day."

How else can one be sure about niceness? It's like happiness: Are you happy or do you just think you're happy?  Thing is, Real Engineers subscribe to Lord Kelvin's sagacious pronouncement: "Once you have a number for a thing, well only then do you have knowledge about that thing." 

>>>> Real Engineers give you the feeling you're having a conversation with a dial tone or busy signal.

Little engineering information can be gleaned from what most people have to say.  Listening, the ultimate in politeness, takes practice.  You might return the favor next time you hear a Real Engineer reading the FBI Warning at the beginning of a video. 

>>>> Real Engineers wear badges so they don't forget who they are. Sometimes a note is attached saying "Don't offer me a ride today. I drove my own car."

Mindedness is a terrible thing to be absent.  It's the price we Real Engineers pay to meet the global gusto for gadgets and gismos.  Not widely known, but Real Engineers  have the ability to read reverse images. We practice the skill while washing our hands after visiting the restroom. That's when we read our own badges, you see.  Not a bad time to check for mayonaise splatters, too.  "Oh well," you will hear us say, "I must have already had lunch."

>>>> Real Engineers' politics run towards acquiring a parking space with their name on it and an office with a window.

The higher-ups have put in voice mail and taken those lighted buttons off our phones -- the ones that blink and go `clunk' when you press them. To what now do we aspire?  My most recent name parking space, by the way, was located right beside the Dempsy Dumpster, which was bad enough, but they spelled my name with a g  instead of a q.  So I had to order new business cards.

>>>> Real Engineers know the "ABC's of Infrared" from A to B.

Not to be too immodest, we Real Engineers know everything from A to B on some subjects and from Y to Z on others. Some say that having a Real Engineer in your organization is a necessary evil.  Rather that, than an unnecessary good (the latter always the first to be 'downsized' out the door). 

>>>> Real Engineers rotate their tires for laughs.

That makes no sense whatsoever. My tires rotate whenever I drive my car.  I've never watched them do that, but if I did, I can tell you, I would find nothing at all to laugh at.

>>>> Real Engineers will make four sets of drawings before making a bird bath.

You need your plan view, your front view, your side view, and your -- oh, barf. Go make your own bird bath. This Real Engineer is getting an idea, though: a bird jacuzzi. With an infrared remote control.  Hmm.

>>>> Real Engineers' briefcases contain a Phillips screwdriver, a copy of Quantum Physics, and a half of a peanut butter sandwich.

With the appearance of the greatly admired Phillips screw, most of us Real Engineers see no reason to carry a slotted screwdriver in our briefcases (I do keep one in my belt, of course, where my sliderule once was).  Real Engineers keep that particular book handy not so much for the information inside but because the cover serves as a reminder that the abbr. for Quantum Physics is QP not QF.  Oh, and the brown  substance referred to above is used to smear on the door handles of a car improperly parked in the Real Engineer's name parking space.

>>>> Real Engineers don't find the above at all funny.

Being a Real Engineer is a solemn matter. Solemn and noble.  Live with it. 

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