Thursday, December 3, 2009


I'm one of the most un-handy people around, so this next observation is not a slam on anyone who is all thumbs when it comes to being mechanically proficient. If it involves anything more than a hammer or a screwdriver, I'm using the yellow pages to call in the help.

That aside, an occurrence this morning at my hotel breakfast bar floored me. I was in the process of buttering up my waffles next to the waffle-maker, when an Indian gentleman sauntered up next to me. He was looking at the syrup bottle wondering what to do with it. He then asked me what to do, and I briefly explained to him to pour the batter into the waffle-maker.

He didn't know how to close the top handle, and I had to flip the waffle-maker for him as well, as he had no clue. Him being Indian, I joked to him, asking him if he was an engineer. He replied "yes." Which caused me to do a double-take before gathering myself, looking to remove the slight uneasiness. I tried another joke, in order to relieve the awkwardness (at least in my mind).

Unfortunately, I proceeded to put my foot in my mouth again, asking if he was a "mechanical engineer." To which he replied with a resounding "yes" again.

Another gentleman a couple tables over let out a hearty laugh. He had heard our brief conversation, and he was an aerospace engineer. At one time, I was an electrical and computer engineer who happened to work in the aerospace industry, designing airborne radar systems for fighter jets. So the aerospace engineer and I later hit it off, comparing war stories from back in the day.

But the subject of amusement resided in the fact that here was this first gentleman who was a highly-trained mechanical engineer, yet didn't know how to operate a waffle-maker, a simple mechanical instrument (all he had to do was close the handle and turn it upside down). By the way, he also over-filled the waffle-maker with too much batter, but that's a demerit that was excusable.

Sometimes education and knowledge are mutually exclusive--as is common sense.

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