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Used and abused

3 years ago

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David Twohig | Engineer


19 October 2021

Years ago, when I was a trainee ‘sparkie’ designing various electronic gubbins for Nineties Nissans, my mate Paul was responsible for seats and seatbelts. He still is, in fact – if you’ve been unlucky enough to have a major prang in any Nissan built over the past 30-odd years, he’s probably helped save your life. If my parts went wrong, it was not a major disaster – you might have a dodgy trip computer or maybe a flat battery at worst. But if Paul had an off day, it was potentially a lot more serious.

He was therefore more than a bit perturbed when a senior Nissan exec at the time – who shall remain nameless – came storming up to his desk, a very unhappy camper indeed. His company car, a shiny new Primera, had just had a very serious failure. As he was driving to work, the driver’s seatbelt buckle had unclipped. This was bad. Very bad.

It was always unpleasant when we had any failures in the managers’ company cars – they were, quite rightly, very demanding customers, and would (again, rightly) come down on us junior engineers like a ton of bricks if there were the slightest fault with our components. But this was a whole other ball-game – this was a potential safety failure. The exec in question ‘motivated’ Paul with a sergeant-major-style dressing down, threw him the keys of the car and told him to find out what was wrong – tout de suite.  Paul did not need telling twice – if he’d indeed screwed up, his career was going to be a short one.

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