JOHN HOUFF, ELECTRICIAN

For my post on John – including the perils of electricity – see this link.

Electrician since 1990.

Previous occupation: Art teacher in Chicago public schools (more keeping the kids in their seats than teaching) and retail manager.

Training: Trade school – you can get a good education fast.

Sum up the job: It’s like a puzzle. I know the final goal and have to get from Point A to Point B without totally destroying everything. My goal is to not shock the customer, not burn the house down, and make it all usable.

Biggest risks: You can die, but I try to minimize that.

Other risks: Carpal tunnel syndrome, pinched nerves. Shocks (a couple times a year). Crawl spaces – there are rats there. It’s really gross.

What you need to do your job well: A really good memory. Intuition. Planning ahead. Knowledge of the latest residential codes.

Worst mistake: Had to re-wire a hot tub because I realized – in the middle of the night – that I made a mistake. The customer didn’t know, and maybe wouldn’t have found out, but I knew.

Hardest part of your job: I have to figure out what the customer is noticing, why they called me, and to figure out the way things were done before I got there. Where you look for problems is dependent on what you’re told.

What are you proud of? My style is easy to figure out.

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