This product must be installed by a competent person

It is Sunday afternoon and I have just laid fragile claim to some masculine territory. It is a minor triumph by any standards and no triumph at all by many. However, as an office worker, who has been a keyboard warrior since work began, I will take my emotional sustenance as I can. My achievement was fitting one of these and one of these all on my own. I celebrate because I am anxious of electricity. I don’t really understand how it works but I do know it is dangerous and invisible.

I read the minute instruction leaflet that came with the equipment. It was clear that “the product must be fitted by a competent person”. Was that me? Am I competent? An important choice to make here. I read ahead to see what step I needed to be competent in. Some wire cord cutting, shaving of plastic, joining of wires to fittings and putting it back together. All of this was to be preceded by TURNING EVERYTHING OFF FIRST. If I could, I think I would have disabled the entire electricity supply of my postcode. You can’t be too safe.

I judged that I could be competent at this task.

I satisfied myself with switching off the lighting circuit upstairs and wearing rubber soled slippers. As I proceeded, I realised that there was only really one way of fulfilling my task. There were probably a few options to complete it more or less well. But, to get it working, one set of steps would cover it. Quite a well designed product then.

One thing I did not do, which I would normally, was checking the advice of a surrogate dad on YouTube. You know the fellow: impressive tool belt and a great deal of kit at his disposal. A sign of confidence in my competence. No father figure needed for me.

It all passed off well and the new light fitting is working well. My son can see his work space clearly again (another excuse removed). Thousands of light fittings are out there fitted by the self diagnosing competent electrician I reckon.

If I were at work I suspect some form of diagnostic would be in play. Some questions about my understanding of electricity and electrical equipment. A quiz on my knowledge of tools and their appropriate modes of use. A risk assessment, for sure (insurance policies are exacting). Ideally, some way of having a go in a safe space.  A record of my achievement of sufficient mastery would be needed. What would have slowed the whole thing down and raised the expense is the involvement of a third party in judging my competence. Most tasks in most work can be done by most people with sensible support and some trust to figure it out (with a surrogate parent at hand – often called a friend or colleague).

I now have my eye on the light fittings downstairs. My competence is growing.





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