You might be an engineer if...

You might be an engineer if...

By L. Robert Smith, P.E., F.ASCE
Past President of the Providence Engineering Society

I know I am an engineer. It is not just that I walk around with an engineer's scale and pens in my shirt pocket. (No plastic pocket protector, though.) People who know me tell me I do things only an engineer would do. People who don't know I am an engineer just think I am "anal compulsive." I will leave it up to the readers to decide. A few of the pertinent cases follow.

You might be an engineer if you recognize the importance of exercising your circuit breakers--and do it on the day the time changes because the clocks will be messed up anyway. I wired my house some 25 years ago. In the time ensuing, I have had circuit breakers trip on less than half a dozen occasions. If circuit breakers go long periods of time without any usage, they can freeze up. To prevent this, I began regularly exercising my circuit breakers. I go to the board and work each breaker back and forth, a number of times. The only problem with this is that digital clocks, microwaves, VCRs, TVs, etc., lose their settings, requiring a special trip around the house to reset all of them. Now, I only exercise the breakers when Daylight Saving Time kicks in and out--when I have to reset everything anyway. In truth, I have been known to do it at other times: whenever the power goes out at home, of its own volition.

You might be an engineer if you rotate your used and unused furniture as though they were non-radial tires. I live by myself. My kitchenette set has four chairs. I sit in one exclusively. When I have one person for company, he or she will usually sit directly across from me. If four or more people come over, we will utilize the dining room. As a result, one chair gets heavy usage. A second gets light usage. The other two get almost no usage. A couple of years ago, I had to replace the chairs, because ONE had worn out. The new chairs I ordered came with casters. The first of every month I now rotate my kitchen chairs. I use the same rotation pattern that used to be utilized for non-radial tires, without using the spare. These chairs will be left to someone in my will.

You might be an engineer if, when building your home, you forgo kitchen cabinets in lieu of two dishwashers--one for clean dishes, one for dirty. When I built my house I wanted to install two dishwashers--one to go on either side of the sink. The biggest problem with a dishwasher, to my mind, is unloading the dishes after they are done. My plan was to not unload the clean dishes. I would just use them directly from the dishwasher. The dirty dishes would then go into the other dishwasher. When that was full, I would reverse the cycle. My beloved ex-wife-to-be, the general contractor, and the plumber both nixed that idea. I still think it a great plan. If I ever build another house, I plan to install two dishwashers.

You might be an engineer if you recycle your mouthwash... I read an article recommending the occasional pouring of a capful of a particular brand of mouthwash into the toilet bowl. This is to help kill germs, theoretically. I took it to heart. Whenever I rinse with this mouthwash, I spit it out into the toilet bowl. Double dipping, I guess.

...and your cat's leftover water Twice a day, when I feed the cat, I change her water. She never finishes all the water I have previously given her. I utilize the leftover water by pouring it onto my houseplants.

You might be an engineer if you coordinate your clothes with like-colored hangers, and then organize the whole closet. I have bachelorhood down to a science. I own about 60 dress shirts and probably the same number of casual shirts. I can go months without having to stop at the drycleaners. I hang the shirts on plastic hangers. The hangers are colored. I try to hang each shirt on a matching color hanger. This gets tough with plaids and stripes. When there is not one predominant color, I use brown hangers as a default.

As I said, I know I am an engineer. I am not sure the ideas listed above are the result of my being an engineer. Maybe I am "anal compulsive." Maybe it's the same thing.

Reprinted by permission of the author.