Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Old Man and His Pillow Factory

Once I met a man who had worked for many years for a fire sprinkler company in the Los Angeles area. I asked him about memorable experiences and he told me about the pillow factory.

A business man in his younger year wanted to make pillows, so he had a factory built and a sprinkler system was installed in case of fire. The sprinklers were duly installed through the factory and word was given to the local water district to make the connection.

More than thirty years passed and the man telling the story had become an inspector, routinely checking the gauges at the many installations for his company.

On his routine check of the pillow factory, he read the gauges and they were reading properly. But he was suspicious of something, so opened the line. Air rushed out and the gauge dropped to zero. What could be wrong?

He traced the lines back to the water connection and saw that it had never been hooked up. The now-white-haired owner of the factory had lived all of these year believing that his business was protected from fire, and it hadn't been at all.

Probably the original installers had pumped air into the system to check it for leaks so the gauges read correctly, but the water had never been connected.

The inspector telling the story said that he called the water district to report the problem and they said they would be out next month. After he explained their failure thirty years ago and that they would be liable if there was a fire, their crews arrived in a few minutes to make the proper connections.

I thought, how many people live their lives with a religious delusion that they are protected, when they have never been hooked up to the system. The gauges read right, so they have not investigated further.


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