Know what you’re paying for…?

A folklore to share…

A merchant ship carrying millions worth high quality perishable food stuff stalled en route with a little over 100 nautical miles to the harbor. What started as a normal engine halt emerged into a crisis with the engine refusing to budge for over 20 hours. The engine technicians on-board had given up after trying everything they knew and could think of. The auxiliary power unit that ran their chiller units for the food storage would only last for 30 hours on this ship when stalled. Time was running out fast and the Captain dreaded the thought of millions worth goods rotting in his ship.

Having given up on all hopes, the Captain called up an old friend – an expert technician who had to his credit some of the biggest vessel rescues. He had a Super Specialist status in the industry and was among the few who charged by the minute for services rendered. Lucky for the Captain, the Specialist was only a few hours away and for old time’s sake agreed to come in to help.

The chopper landed with the Specialist and after the exchange of pleasantries…he asked to be taken to the engine bay. He climbed down and stood at a spot that seemed like the center for the engine. He asked the technicians above to crank the engine. As they did it a few times he stood there with his poker face giving no hopes to the Captain and his men who were anxiously trying to read his face. He raised his hand signaling to stop the cranking and pulled out a spanner from his toolkit. The onboard technicians pulled out their notepads to take notes. As they watched intently, the Specialist moved closer to one of the engine heads and hit it thrice with his spanner. He signaled again for the engine to be cranked. To the Captain and crew’s relief, the engine chugged back to life and reached top run in minutes.

The Captain and Specialist laughed over some fine wine on the deck and shook hands as the Specialist boarded the waiting chopper. As he boarded he handed over the invoice for his fee and had his written recommendation on it about an engine component that needs replacement before the next voyage. One of the officers glanced at the invoice and news spread fast that it carried a 20,000 Dollar fee plus transportation costs on actuals.

The technicians gathered in surprise and met the Captain to ask why would someone charge 20K for just minutes spent at the engine bay. They voiced that the fix did not even involve opening up the engine. The Captain smiled and said – the fee is not for tapping the engine with a spanner but for knowing where to tap. The fee is not for the fix but for the decades of experience behind the fix and of course for the assurance that the fix will take the ship safely to the port.

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