When No Means No!

In my day job I make and sell elevator components. We've been doing this since 1910, which means we've got thousands of controllers and other elevator components still operating in the field today.  Occasionally we'll get a call from a building owner asking for some help and usually we're able to recommend a good elevator company in their neck of the woods that can help them. This to us is a win - win situation.  Last week however was different. A guy walked into our office off the street and said he had an old controller that we manufactured for a building he owned from 1963. He further explained that he had an electrician out in the field that had taken the controller apart, cleaned all the components and put it back together, kind of like humpty dumpty. The only problem was that he couldn't get it to run in the down direction and just the up direction.

With a wiring diagram in his hand he asked, "Do you have an engineer's I can pay for the day to come out and help trouble shoot the elevator and controller?"  I asked him if he was an elevator contractor.  He said yes and pulled out this raggedy laser printed business card that looked as if had been in his pocket for years. I bet he had more than one in his wallet, one of him as a painter, one for an electrician, one for perhaps vinyl siding which was big back in the 1970's & 1980's.  I looked at the name on it and did not recognize it and then probed for more information. "You say you have an electrician working on your elevator? Is he a trained elevator mechanic?" With that the flood gates opened! "No, who needs elevator mechanics, they cost way too much!" Mean while the electrician working on the controller of his has taken two weeks to get it to the point where it will run in the up direction only.

From that information the alarm for battle mode went off in my head as this 65 year old, moth ball smelling coot continued to push and push and push for one of our engineers. He was relentless to the point where I started to wonder if he was crazy. His persistence was border line of getting kicked out of our building. 

In the end, this building owner left our building with three elevator companies' phone numbers in his pocket which were quickly tossed on the ground as he left our building. Next time I'm going to give anyone walking through the door who is planning on doing work on his elevator and is not an elevator technician a copy of the accident that resulted in a death in Boston, MA. Elevators are dangerous pieces of equipment to work on even for the techs that are trained and licensed to do so. 

Never be afraid to say no when you know something is unsafe! It perhaps could save a life some day!