71: Don’t Be A Douche

So I am currently watching a show on the Science Channel called Build it Bigger; if you’re not familiar with it, the premise of it is this: The host of the show is a post-grad engineer named Daniel who goes out into the real world to learn more about his craft by seeing it through the eyes of the skilled tradesmen who will be doing the actual building of the things he designs (theoretically). Daniel is still a bit of a douche, but at least he is attempting to put away his selfish pride and learn more from the people with working experience instead of interjecting his hair-brained insistence into every job he encounters.

This got me thinking… if more post-grad professionals were like Daniel, we would live in a better world. Unfortunately, most of them are not — in fact, most are the polar opposite of Daniel, and insist that once they reach commencement, there is nothing they do not know (although they usually find out quite quickly how incorrect they were). You see, the wonderful institutions of higher learning in this world are particularly good at one thing: padding the egos of the students who patronize them. This leads to a society filled with foolishly overconfident graduates ready to make catastrophic mistakes without consulting with the people who actually know what they are doing.

Thankfully, I no longer have to deal with such people on a consistent basis, however I have had my fair share of these encounters during my time in the military in dealing with shiny, new lieutenants. As a dog-handler, I was charged with training my dogs to detect the odor of nearly every explosive known to man; and to do this, I had to safely use and keep track of more than 20 pounds of high explosives. Additionally, we were required to go through a certification process where the commanding officer of the unit would come out and watch the dogs go through a training problem and verify that they can do their job with a high degree of accuracy.

Most commanders know nothing of explosives limits, explosives safety precautions, or minimum safe distances… or anything of the like, and they don’t pretend to know! They understand that there are requirements which are set in-place to keep everyone safe and they do not attempt to interfere with that. However, occasionally a Lieutenant will be required to sit-in for the commander at one of our certifications due to some sort of absence…. and THAT is when chaos ensues. Fresh from the factory, most of them constantly insist that they know better than you and will attempt to correct you at every opportunity, even when there is nothing to correct or they know nothing of the topic at hand.

One time in particular, a certain young individual tried to tell me that we needed to continue a certification despite an impending electrical storm, because he had a very tight schedule. Let me repeat that for you… he insisted that we needed to keep the electronically detonated HIGH EXPLOSIVES out in the OPEN FIELD during the ELECTRICAL STORM and continue the certification because he was busy and could not re-schedule.

Let that one sink in for a moment…

Needless to say, I did not comply with his request. But it goes to show you how someones foolish pride could easily mean the difference between life and death in certain cases, and especially in the cases of certain jobs — such as engineers — where their decisions can endanger the lives of thousands of individuals. So, if you are a post-grad, and you are ready to hit the working world… please, don’t be a douche.