We Care A Lot

In 1985, Faith no More released their album “We Care a Lot”, with a track of the same name. I discovered that track about 1987. It details a lot of things about which they care a lot about (look up the lyrics), and some of it is cynicism but the refrain is:

Oh it’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it.

My mother was a doctor, my father a safety-critical engineer, and so I grew up with a very strong life ethic. It is not exactly surprising that when I came out of university, I ended up a safety-critical engineer myself. Mostly aerospace, but some rail and automotive.

I worked on many planes, one train system, and a couple of automotive systems. However, the Boeing 787 broke me. I worked on that plane for several years, and the amount I cared took my pleasure, my sanity, and nearly my life. I want to say how much, but I can’t.

I am no longer completely immersed in the safety-critical industry, but despite some of my best efforts, I am still heavily involved. The problem is, that now I have worked for nearly 20 years in those kind of systems, I have to.

We care a lot.

Once you have given your soul to the safety-critical industry, you can never go back. It is a mindset. That niggle that if something goes wrong, people die. Potentially hundreds or thousands (millions?) of people. Code I wrote, over 20 years ago, people still depend upon. I may have made a mistake in some testing, that means some freak accident causes a plane crash tomorrow. There are checks and balances, but I still have that weight on my shoulders.

You can take the engineer out of the safety-critical, but you cannot take the safety-critical out of the engineer.

This is nearly my mantra these days. I no longer work in a safety-critical job, but I am still (how could I not be) involved in our company’s safety effort. I still cast an eye over things that go past me, and go “Is this OK?” … “Is this safe??

Oh it’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it.

I did that job. Many of us do. I still do it, to a lesser extent. We care a lot. A lot.