Sunday, December 04, 2005


A Thai friend of mine asked me how I came up with subjects for these posts. (I had one for just about every day in November.) That worried me when I started this thing a year ago. I had maybe 5 in mind at the time. Then things just started coming.

This morning I was nibbling on roasted ground nuts (peanuts are called ground nuts here in Thailand) with the TV off. My mind wandered and I came up with subjects for 4 more posts.

This is one of them that I call STUPIDITY IS LIKE A DISEASE.

When you put a dumb guy in charge of a project the chain of problems become endless.

My company chose one of them to head up a billion dollar project.

(Wouldn’t the company lose money by doing that?)

(On the contrary. It was a cost-plus project. The more money this idiot wasted, the more money the company made. On that level, it was a smart choice.)

I knew this guy from previous jobs we had been on together. He had unlimited self assurance but a bumper sticker mentality. The beginning and ending of every discussion was something like, “Our company doesn’t do (such and such),” or, “To achieve (such and such) is our goal.” He discouraged alternate views.

I was very uncomfortable around him. I felt I had to act dumb in order not to offend him.

Then they put him in charge of this huge job. It was one of the largest in the history of the world.

I’m thinking ‘This guy needs help.’ And so he did.

This guy started in construction as a mechanic, repairing machines. He had very little construction experience.

So who does he choose as Assistant Project Manager? Another mechanic.

And for Chief Engineer? He gets a Mechanical Engineer who was also a devotee of bumper sticker thought.

I figured this guy didn’t want anyone around who was smarter than him.


Did that limit the candidates? You betcha.

I’m going to edit myself down to just a couple of interesting happenings.

I was on an isolated job that called for digging short trenches and small holes. We had to dig everything by hand. I asked him for a small Ford-Ferguson piece of equipment that came with blade in front and a little back hoe in the rear.

He chastised me by asking me to remember that, ‘We are a heavy equipment company.”

I still laugh when I think of that.

Another time I was doing a marine job, again isolated from headquarters.

When the floating equipment arrived I discovered there was no means to reach it.
They told me that the motor boat, for that purpose was held back for some repairs.

No bigee. There were local boats for hire all around. I requested permission to rent one.

Request denied.

This led to an extended exchange on the company radio. The transmission was heard in every company site in the country. I was told later that it was very entertaining to all.

The gist was, “What the hell am I supposed to do with that floating equipment when I can’t reach it?”

I was finally granted permission to rent a small boat.

The big shot’s reputation suffered and I became his mortal enemy.

The final example is the all-time best.

He had often told me, when he sent me into harm’s way that, “We don’t send our people into harm’s way.”

He and his entire party were captured be the Viet Cong while visiting one of our quarries.

I celebrated.

I am evil.

(If you didn’t like working for him, why didn’t you quit?)

(I did. Twice. The first time I resigned the day my contract was fulfilled. I went back when the company made big concessions. Then I resigned again two weeks after that contract was complete. Then I stayed in country working for design engineers.)


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