Technicians, plumbers, carpenters, chimney sweeps, builders… whichever trade you’re skilled in, we know that no day at work is ever the same as the last! Whether you’ve been working in your trade for 2 years or 20 years, most of us have a funny story to tell, so we tasked tradesmen (and women) across the world to share their experiences with us.
From health and safety hazards to harmless pranks, here are the result…
A health and safety nightmare
“So, my story is a funny one… I was an apprentice a few years back and all I remember was that despite the current age of PC culture, they still insisted on treating me like one of the old school apprentices. Eventually we started to butt heads as it was just getting ridiculous, and they would start hanging my employment over my head like I was a donkey, and my employment was the carrot and stick!
“One day, I was up on the roof of a toilet block in a half-built warehouse, installing an air-conditioning unit, and there was very little foot space available. The old school plumber I was working with asked me to climb a ladder to do some higher up work, which mean I would be 7 foot up on this small toilet block. However, due to the lack of room available to put any weight on, the ladder ended up being so close to the wall that it was at about 70 degrees, which is nearly straight up.
“I just looked at how unsafe it was and said, “No”. I knew that WHEN it fell over, I wouldn’t be falling down the 7 foot – it would be around a 2-story fall instead.His response was, “Well, then you’re fired”, so I said, “Fine,I’d prefer to stay alive, anyway”. He was literally stunned by the response (somehow!), and you could see his brain slowly working out everything.Eventually he offered a safe half second solution, that would mean I wouldn’t be dying that day… it only it took him about 30 seconds.
“So, I’m glad to report that I am still alive and well, and that that was still my last day with them. Nobody should be putting up with that rubbish.”
– Mick, The Handyman Co
Too close for comfort
“I’m the marketing manager for Glenco, a trade service company that has been operating all over Sydney since 1988. We specialise in electrical appliances, air conditioning, and security and alarms. We currently have a team of 30 tradespeople working for us, and there are numerous stories we can share.
“One example would be the prank we pulled on one of our first-year apprentices.It was his first week on the job and he came into our office for his induction into the company. We gave him all the paperwork to fill out and all the info he would need whilst working for Glenco. We also told him he would be with Michael for the week, who is one of our senior electricians. We told him that Michael really likes it when his apprentice follows him around really closely. Like, REALLY closely. We told him not to dare leave his side and watch his every move closely.
“At the end of the week, we asked Michael what he thought of the new apprentice. He said, “We need to get rid of the bloke – he’s creepy and stands way too close to you, to the point where it’s awkward!” We all cracked up laughing and finally told the apprentice how he’d been led astray.”
– Lara, Marketing Manager at Glenco
Screaming with laughter
“My husband restores heritage buildings so there’s a few ghost stories in there, as well as one funny time when I worked on site. I had to use a great big drill with a huge drill bit to drill into sandstone, and all I did was push myself backwards because I didn’t have the strength to push the drill bit in!
“In terms of ghost stories… Once, we were working on an old homestead called Plashett out at Jerry’s Plains. It’s very remote, so there’s no roads, street lights or neighbours nearby, and we had one of our guys staying in the home while he worked. He was in his late 50s, an old hand at life, and he didn’t believe in ghosts.
“One night he went to bed and woke up to a noise. He looked at the door (which had glass panels) and could see a blue light moving around, and then he heard noises as well. He was extremely scared, and and when the light went he ran and locked himself in the car to sleep!
“I actually asked him this when he was telling me about it: “Des, did you think a locked car door would keep a ghost out of your car?” and he had a look of horror on his face when he realised it wouldn’t have made a difference.”
– Katrina-Jane, Author and Clairvoyant
An unusual request
“Here at Service.com.au, an online trades and services directory, we have customers jumping onto our website every day to request quotes from local qualified tradies. We had a funny job posted recently by a frustrated wife searching for a plumber. It said:
“Need shower repaired – stupid husband came home from the pub drunk last night and has fallen into the shower. He’s bent the shower head and ripped the shower curtain and rod off the wall on the way down. Apart from a sore head from the grog he’s fine, but he’ll be sleeping with the dogs for the next week.”
“Safe to say this isn’t a job we come across every day. Let’s hope the husband paid for the repairs!”
– Georgia Budden, Service.com.au
Plenty of awkward situations
“I’m a landscaper with over 20 years’ experience of working on construction sites in both Sydney and London. So, as you can imagine I’ve got loads of stories!
“One example is my hardest day of work. This was when my labourer nicked off at 3pm on a Friday, leaving me to move 2 tonnes of wet bagged sand through the first floor of a house all by myself (sand was blocking a road in London…). Needless to say, I sacked him on the Monday.
“Or there’s that time a client rang me because a colleague had done something in his garden… (you can probably guess what that was…). Similarly, another time, I had to have a word with one of my managers due to their bad BO.
“There’s also all those years when there was no female toilet, so I had to drive to the nearest public toilet… I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but it was a real pain.”
– Anna Turner, Gauge PM
We’ve got a leak!
“One fine day I’m called by one of our commercial property management clients and asked to rush out to one of their buildings as a “toilet issue” has been reported by one of the tenants on site. I rush over, see the tenant and ask, “What’s the drama?” He says, “Have a look for yourself!’ So, I walk into the first set of bathrooms to find all 12 toilets overflowing with raw sewerage…. I Immediately call the client and tell them they’ll need a plumber right away.
“Plumber arrives shortly after and quickly uncovers the problem. The main sewer pipe is blocked and a building of some 300 people with 50 toilets has been backing up all day long. All tenants are directed to the next building for their toilet needs, and we set about the unclog. However, first we need a vac truck to be able to clean this mess up once the pipe is opened and the block is moved along. Frantic calls ensue and a truck is on the way, so now the plumber can open up the nearest access point (in the multi level underground carpark). This means that EVERYTHING backed up is going to come up!
“Cars are quickly evacuated, tradies stand at the ready (quite a distance back), and one unlucky plumber loses rock, paper, scissors and has to unscrew the cap. Up the ladder he goes, hand on the cap, unscrewing. As the cap hits the end of its thread both it and the plumber launch wayward of the sewer pipe, and then we’re hit by the smell… immediately! This is quickly followed by an odd wave of warm, almost hot air.
“90 seconds pass, the pipe comes to a slow flow and the plumbers get to their real work; the blockage. Cleared, done and tested for flow, it’s all good and they’re gone. I’m left as the vac truck arrives to pick up as much as possible (a few thousand litres) and then it’s time for cleaning and sanitising – 6 hours worth of it. My nose seemingly doesn’t work anymore, or refuses to. My shoes should never be worn again and I’ve got one hell of a story to tell anyone with a strong enough stomach.”
– Nathan Schokker, Talio
Noodles in the photocopier
“My husband is a Senior Technician who fixes photocopiers for our business, Effective Office Solutions Pty Ltd. We run the business together, however, some of the funniest things my husband has come across, is when one of our customers lost a chopstick inside the photocopier while trying to remove a paper jam.
“My husband politely explained that there are no noodles inside this machine and in future, she may want to call the technician before attempting any recoveries!”
– Julia, FixMy Photocopier
Bring your own mug
One of our HARP Electrical electricians says he takes his own tupperware box with him on jobs, with tea, sugar and milk containers, and (get this) – his own special mug. He never lets a customer make him tea as he has a special brew and technique that nobody can replicate, apparently!