Phrases that Never End Well

There are some combinations of words in the English language that should predispose experienced hearers to, oh, back away slowly, then run upwind. Besides the famous, all-purpose, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you!”

I will not admit to having said any of the following, but I have been on the receiving end of a few of them.

“I don’t need a torque wrench.” – Which was why the oil leaked, after three grossly over-tightened bolts crushed the gasket and caused it to crack, leading to a charming mess. Trying not to do more damage while removing the nuts, bolts, and gasket inspired still more Anglo-Saxon terminology. An air-hammer does not replace a torque wrench. This also applies to small people trying to remove lug nuts from a flat tire. Don’t be the [rude word] who tightens them thirty foot-pounds past the recommended level, “just in case.” My hand to Bog, I will hit you with the tire tool, after I start with a few licks from a 11/2 inch wrench.

“This won’t take long.” – We started trying to mount the engine at four PM, with plans to be done by four fifteen, so we could all beat Atlanta rush hour. An hour or so and a giant oil puddle on the floor later, we got the engine in the mounts. Even at the time, I knew that phrase was the kiss of doom. I have yet to be proven wrong.

“It’ll all fit just fine.” Because it all came in one small box/crate/shipping barrel. It never, ever goes back into just one small box/crate/shipping barrel. Or one bowl or Tupperware™. Whichever one you reach for will be just a little too small. Pots? Use one size larger, especially if it involves pasta or rice. Just trust me on this, whatever it is will expand to fill the space available + V, where V = one quarter to one third the volume of the original container.

“Ignore the light, there’s a short in the system that makes it come on.” No, the short was why the radio in my 2011 Tacoma came on at random intervals (known flaw not worth dealing with). The warning light comes on for a reason, especially if it is related to temperature or fluid levels. Truuussssssst me, you need to check the oil or hydraulic fluid level. It’s normal seepage until it isn’t. Motor vehicles should not leave little red puddles behind.

“It won’t spark that much, I know what I’m doing.” Using a grinder or welding torch in the open on a windy day is not a great idea. Using those tools while standing in dry grass on a windy day . . . Our first major fire of the year started from some [uncharitable epithet] welding in dry grass. Two houses, a high-school football field, at least a dozen sheds, Lord-only-knows fence posts and 13,000 acres of pasture and range later, firefighters managed to get the thing put out in the next state north. A dude using a grinder in the middle of a grassy area on the north side of Amarillo toasted thousands of acres and hundreds of evacuations. No, the garden hose won’t help when the winds are 35 MPH gusting 55.

“No worries, we’ll be well finished with the hike before the afternoon storms roll in.”  – Goosh, crack-BOOM, goooosh. Drip, drip, drip. Clatter of chattering teeth. ‘Nuf said.


27 thoughts on “Phrases that Never End Well

  1. Accompanying the last one, “oh, I don’t need a map. I have GPS on my phone.” Until the battery dies or you walk out of signal range, then you have a problem. At that point, good luck trying to call for help.

  2. “I don’t need a checklist.” is said by those who need it the most. Now, this was for a very simple, any semi-competent teenager could to it sort of job. And yet… well, there was a reason the person after me loved it when they took over after my shift. Sure, I might be sitting there reading something… but that was after I’d run through the checklist of things that needed doing (which I had compiled). Usually at least twice.

  3. “Hey, watch this!”
    “Well, in my experience,” from the 2LT or teenager.
    “Florida man…”
    “Honey, we need to talk.”

    • So very much.
      All of them.
      In particular, “We need to talk” is pretty much the scariest sentence a husband can hear.
      You won’t need it.

      • When I was working (I’m retired), that was the worst thing for me. It always meant bad news. I still get nervous when I hear it.

  4. “I don’t need any help, I can do it myself. ” [When I say this, it’s a sure sign I’m already over my head.]
    “I’ll be over there tomorrow” [If you do want them, they won’t show, if you don’t, they will.]

    • That’s a code phrase. It translates as “You’ll drive past it at least three times before giving up and asking a local who might know.”

      • What can make it “more interesting” is when the person giving the directions uses landmarks that may not exist anymore. 😈

        • “Take the corner five miles before where the old Smith place use to be.”

          The Smiths hadn’t been in the elderly speaker’s lifetime.

          …my mom, then in her 20s, still found the place on the first try. -.- She’s still not sure if she should be proud or worried.

  5. From yesterday: “What harm can happen if I look at that backup drive with fdisk?” Several hours and loss of 4 months of backups later, it’s working. Now with redundant backups.

  6. “I’m a X, that means I’m qualified for all X positions, and don’t need to be worrying about how little I know.” -Me

    Took me long time, and further education in X to realize how hilariously wrong I was. And by then I realized that I wanted to learn Y, probably Z, and maybe some others.

  7. Sigh… Oh yeah… And you didn’t mention safety wire once! PROUD of you for that. ;-P

  8. On vehicle recalls: “We’ll fix it right, fast and free!”

    The “mechanic” who did a rear-spring recall on my vehicle went well above 100 ft/lbs; had to use my own air wrench to loosen. It’s spec’ed at 89.

    I much prefer to swap winter tires myself.

  9. Trust me I know what I’m doing, often heard before a loud boom, followed by a string of Anglo-Saxon adjectives..

    I just need five minutes of your time. Three day and five meetings later, the project from hell is now your responsibility because you are the only one who “understands” it.

  10. All of the examples in this post and comments are variants of “The Announcer’s Jinx.” The Announcer’s Jinx is a real, verifiable thing! I know, because I used to do a little sports play-by-play for cable TV in the past. For example, if the announcer says “This kicker has been perfect kicking extra points this season; he’s kicked 18 in a row.” It is then a GUARANTEE that the kicker will miss the next kick! Or, if the announcer says, “This pitcher hasn’t allowed a home run in the last 90 innings he has pitched,” then it’s a guarantee that the next pitch he throws will be hit over the center field wall for a home run.

    But what some folks don’t realize is that The Announcer’s Jinx also applies to non-sports things. When you say “I don’t need any help,” you have doomed yourself to not only need help, but it will be expensive help that can reverse the damage you did by trying to do the job yourself!

    And speaking of lug nuts holding wheels on a car…. Although I always ask mechanics to HAND TIGHTEN the lug nuts, they will instead always use their danged air-powered impact wrench. (They will tell you they have the impact wrench set to properly torque the lug nuts, but that is a LIE! They will always apply the maximum amount of torque they can to those lug nuts, probably so they won’t have liability if the wheel comes off while you are driving.) So, the solution I have found is that when I get home, I have to loosen the lug nuts one at the time, then apply some anti-rust compound to the threads of the lug, then I hand tighten each nut. And then as a check, I re-tighten all of the lug nuts after about 50 miles of driving.

  11. “It’ll all fit just fine.” This also works with computer files and small hard drives. Sometimes even with large hard drives.

    • My ancient Craftsman dial-a-torque wrench hit end of life. I think I replaced it the next time I hit town. The old-school bendy wrench is my way-back backup, but there’s not much to break if I really need it.

      I was ticked; that dealership normally has better mechanics. OTOH, Subaru had a few recalls hit at the same time, and I’m pretty sure they’re still working through the #$%^ Takata airbag mess. They were absurdly busy that day.

  12. More than once as walked through the door there is a very serious-faced lieutenant or sergeant standing there saying, “Sir, I need to speak with you right now…”

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