Temperament and Personality:
The Glitchworks

Our personalities are comprised of an uncountable number of factors and influences. The following story illustrates the crucial role temperament plays.

It had been a long six months and Al was finally sitting in the company president’s waiting room. In fact, imagining this very event had kept him from giving up many times. At precisely five o’clock the secretary announced, “Mr. Nelson will see you now.” Mr. Nelson greeted Al at the door and offered him a firm handshake. Nelson was in his early fifties, tall, slim, tanned and obviously sure of himself.

“Please sit down, Al. Would you like a drink?” As Al reached for the cold beer, Mr. Nelson said, “I want to congratulate you for fulfilling your duties over the past six months. I know it’s been a challenge because I set up the Glitchworks myself. It was a tough time for the company back then. We were having difficulty meeting federal regulations and completing warrantee work. I scoured the company for the most finicky mechanics and brought them together in one hangar. I was puzzled at first that their managers didn’t seem to mind losing them, but I soon found out why.

“The Glitchworks team had glitches of their own. They were very difficult to handle. Nevertheless, when they did work together they enhanced our reputation and saved us hundreds of thousands of dollars. But after the sixth manager quit, we implemented the program you signed up for. As you know, a year in the Glitchworks is the doorway to promotion at the Angel Aircraft Company, and we always honour our obligations.

“So far each manager has left an impression. In fact, I felt your decision to hang an old airplane engine from a swing set out back was particularly brilliant. I’ve seen and heard all of your staff hit it with the sledge hammer at one time or another. If I recall correctly, even you’ve clobbered it a few times. Whenever I heard the clang and saw the engine swinging, I warned head office not to bother you that day. I knew something was up. On the other hand, I’ve had a bit of trouble signing the invoices for your team’s monthly visits to ‘Pete’s Paint-Ball Palace’. However, your reports have convinced me not to interfere.”

The intercom buzzed and Mr. Nelson excused himself to accept an important phone call. Al reviewed the morning’s events. The Glitchworks was located in a hangar just off the assembly line. If an airplane had a defect that eluded others, the company expected this group to find and fix it. Period. Getting them to work as a team had been Al’s task for the past six months.

During this time, he had developed a number of strategies to manage his stress. He usually eased into the day by calling on Kathy in the Parts Department. Al liked her. She was punctual, cheerful, and usually very professional. She was able to hunt down even the rarest parts and gracefully persuade the supplier to ship them immediately. As a result, the mechanics rarely had to wait. This was a good thing as frustration caused them to act even weirder.

That morning, Kathy had greeted Al with a grin and chimed, “Half way through your first year, eh? I’ll bet you’re gonna be happy to get out of this loony bin.” Al nodded, and after a few minutes of chit-chat proceeded onward toward the executive jet that was in for repairs. Al considered his group of mechanics. To add a bit of humour, he had secretly renamed them to match their most obvious characteristics.

“Felix,” who acted like one of the original “Odd Couple,” was re-organising his work bench as usual. The cleaning staff, though acutely aware of Felix’s sensitivity to order, could never quite clean his area without disturbing something. They were acutely aware because Felix had tacked up a few large orange signs which blared, “CLEAN WITH CARE.” Many times Al had had to assure a steaming Felix that the cleaning staff were not deliberately trying to mess with his head or his stuff.

Al had noticed after the first few paint-ball battles Felix stopped replacing the signs when they went missing. Al had hoped spending time covered from head to toe in paint would relax Felix’s attitude toward messiness a little. This morning Felix was so absorbed by the task at hand he didn’t notice Al walk by. “Just as well,” thought Al.

As Al neared the jet he could see “Clint” sitting in the cockpit. Al climbed the steps and looked in. Clint was mesmerized by a large bundle of coloured wires he had pulled from under the dashboard. The plane had a short circuit that caused various gauges to dim as it landed. No one could find the problem and the customer wouldn’t accept the jet back until it was fixed. Clint had the patience to check each wire, inch by inch. It took a lot to ruffle Clint’s feathers. However, when he did get angry he liked to throw tools which sometimes bounced off other aircraft or nearly hit people.

One day, not that long ago, Kathy had sprinted into Al’s office, struck his desk violently with a hammer and screamed, “This nearly hit me. If you don’t do something about Clint I’m going to quit!” Al sprang to his feet and said, “Ok already, relax, I get your point.”

“You better”, she said, “or I’m outta here.” Al had been trying to convince Clint to take an anger management course. However, the freshly dented desk meant it was time to implement “Plan B” which happened to give an old radial engine a new lease on life. From then on whenever Clint “saw red” because he barked a knuckle or banged his head, Al would order him to go outside and hit the engine with a sledge hammer until he “vented” his anger. He always returned calm, cool, and collected.

In addition to having a violent temper, Clint was also a world class slob. His work area had been dubbed “Tornado Town” for good reason. Nevertheless, Clint knew instinctively where everything was and obviously kept an internal filing system. It was not surprising that Clint and Felix did not get along very well. Clint hated Felix’s high strung nature and devotion to order, while Felix loathed Clint’s sloppiness. Usually Al was careful to keep them out of each other’s way. However, this wasn’t as critical anymore. Blasting each other with paint-balls had lightened things up between them considerably.

“Mouse” was out of sight as usual. Al only saw him once or twice a day to review work orders. Mouse viewed other people as just another irritating fact of life. He hated having his work interrupted and conversations were out of the question. Mouse preferred to crawl deep into an aircraft’s fuselage to inspect hydraulic connections with a dental mirror and flashlight. For some strange reason he actually enjoyed looking around corners and behind things. Mouse was appreciated by the others as they hated spending time in dark confined places.

Mr. Nelson hung up the phone. “Where was I?” he asked, “Oh yes, the Glitchworks. What do you think of the experience so far?” “Well sir, I never thought I’d say this but I think I’d miss working with this team. They may be weird but they’re great at what they do. They’re precise, dedicated and genuinely concerned about the people who fly in their planes. Except for the occasional bout of “cranial vapour-lock,” you couldn’t ask for better staff to manage. I also have one major challenge left. I still haven’t figured out what type of “cheese” I need to get Mouse out of his hole. He got wind of the birthday cake I bought for him and called in sick that day. You know sir it’s these sorts of problems that keep me going. I have a feeling my next job won’t be nearly as challenging and I still have a lot more to learn.”

Mr. Nelson smiled and nodded. “I knew I had the right man when I asked you to run the Glitchworks. Only a special person can see what is special in other

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