In the Shop
As a farm machinery mechanic and writer, Dan brings a hands-on approach that only a pro can muster. Along with his In the Shop blog, Dan writes a column by the same name as well as the Shop Series for Farm Journal magazine. Always providing practical information, he is a master at tackling technical topics and making them easy for all of our readers to understand. He and his wife, Becky, live near Bouton, Iowa.
Sep 06, 2013
Our dealership requires mechanics to wear gloves as much as possible when working on equipment to minimize scrapes, cuts and abrasions. A couple years ago, shortly after the mandatory glove policy was instituted, I was sent to the field to repair a customer's combine. As I stepped out of my service truck I pulled out a new pair of the safety-yellow, rubberized gloves and slipped them on as I surveyed the ailing machine.
I saw the customer eyeing the gaudy gloves. I'd known him for years, we often joked back and forth, and I couldn't resist the opportunity.
"Fresh, sanitized gloves for every machine," I said. "We've got a couple combines over on the west side of the county that have wiring lice, and we're trying to keep them from spreading."
"Wiring lice?" he said.
"Yeah, they're teeny little varmints that get into those big electrical wiring harnesses and eat the insulation off the wires," I said as I grabbed a couple wrenches and walked toward his machine. "Causes all sorts of problems.They don't fly, they don't jump, they just crawl or get transferred by contact, so we got these special gloves to keep from transferring them between machines." I stopped and scratched vigorously around my collar. "They don't bite humans, but it sure itches when they crawl around."
"Wiring lice," he said, as he took a step away from me.
I never said anything more about the potential plague. I made a point of scratching every time I walked past him, and by the end of the service call, he was nervously itching his forearms.
I'm pretty sure he knew I was joking. The topic of wiring lice has never come up in subsequent conversations. But I'll bet he was scratching for the rest of the day till he convinced himself I wasn't serious.