Speed Reader – Part 1

Speed Reader

Copyright 2012 – Kenneth Richard Hardman

Cover by Author – Includes photo of Brother (TM) Daisy Wheel from personally owned typewriter


In Speed Reader, two engineers have been working hard for weeks to prepare for and demonstrate the capability of their design. On the Friday of their last week of testing, the customer is not fully satisfied, launching the engineers into a last minute creative mode to find a quick and reliable solution to read the speed of a spinning motor and to save their weekend plans.


Richard held a take-out box on his lap. “Thanks for driving. Beef Broccoli was just what I needed.”

“Oh yah.” Eric answered taking a quick look over his right shoulder at the styrofoam box on the back seat. “And you can’t go wrong with Cashew Chicken.”

“I’m so glad the test is over.” Richard continued. “Now I can summarize the data and get back to a few other projects that’ve been on hold.”

Eric stopped his car at an intersection. “I’d say it went pretty smooth, considering all that safety and regulatory stuff you were required to satisfy.”

“Uh-huh, but the worst part was having all those people in the lab, looking over my shoulder, pencils in hand, ready for any failure. I’m tired.”

Eric asked, “Why didn’t they give you more time?”

“I guess they’re waiting for it in the field. They absolutely had to have it done and shipped today. Besides, the truck is on its way.” Richard pulled two theater tickets from his shirt pocket and tapped them on his knee. “I’m gonna finish the report, clean my desk, and get ready for Monday”

“What movie you and Kathy going to tonight?”

“Oh, its not a movie. We have tickets to a play, My Fair Lady.”

As Richard and Eric pulled into the parking lot, David, their manager walked toward the car, arms stretched out to his side, palms up, mouth open.

“Uh-oh.” Eric looked at Richard. “Since when does Dave come out to greet us after lunch? Did he want to go with us?”

“We need you guys right now out at the test bay,” David said before Richard and Eric shut their doors. “Kevin, the customer Quality Rep is concerned about the brake on the hoist and doesn’t think our testing was sufficient.”

Caught off guard, Richards grip compressed the styrofoam box in his hand. Why would he wait until the last minute to criticize my work, especially after all the revisions I made for him?  “Why is he worried about–”

Eric jumped in. “Why didn’t he say something yesterday? They’ve had the procedure for weeks.”

Richard tried again. “What caused this concern for the brake. I  double-checked the specification…” Richard caught himself and looked at Eric, “we checked the spec’s thoroughly and the hoist meets the holding load requirements.”

David walked briskly up the hill motioning his two engineers to follow. “They are concerned that if the brake doesn’t completely stop and hold when the motor is off, that the load could drop without warning and cause damage or hurt someone.”

“The supplier assured us,” Richard said, “that the brake can take three-times the load when the power is off.”

“Regardless, they are insisting on another test.” David pointed to a semi-truck parked on the side of the road. “And it has to be done today.”

Richard and Eric followed David toward the building they had lived in for the past five days.

Ok. Richard took a deep breath and turned to Eric. “It shouldn’t be too hard to repeat a couple paragraphs in the procedure. Is the instrumentation still hooked up?”


David held the door as the three made their way into the test bay finding most of the visitors still present, some examining documents, others inspecting the hoist still installed on the overhead rails above the test pit.  As Richards eyes settled into the test pit, the Beef Broccoli settled in the pit of his stomach, unpleasantly lubricated by the smell of hydraulic oil, and the light sweat on his face. Putting on his best behavior, for a Friday afternoon, Richard glanced at Eric suggesting he do the same, then turned to the group.

“I understand you would like to repeat some tests.”

“Well, not exactly,” Kevin said. “I don’t think repeating tests will prove the capability of the brake.”

About Kenneth Richard Hardman

AncestorClips are very short stories about very real people. Each clip nurtures awareness of a time, a place, and the character of a man or woman who cultivated a path for our life. The reader feels the good, the obstacles, the happiness, the sadness, and the overcoming. They cheer us, make us resilient when challenged, give us purpose, and connect us to our multi-generational family. Each story is followed by reflections from the author and readers sharing how the story strengthened or inspired them. Ken Hardman is a son, a brother, a grandson, a great-grandson… He is also a husband, father and grand-father. Ken is a professional engineer, engineering mentor, technical writer, and associate technical fellow at a major aerospace company. He is a writer of engineering and family history stories. Please join Ken in reading, reflecting upon, or writing #AncestorClips
This entry was posted in STEM. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s