Very interesting post Alastair. Like you, after the first day of my first job, I felt as though I was being thrown to the wolves. Fortunately, I later was assigned a mentor who had been with the company for 28 years. He was (gratefully) a kind sole who understood the dilemma I was in. He did his best to remove the "magic" from the first few assignments I had. During the early 70s, this type of introduction for "newbie's" was common and actually provided humor to the old guard. I think situations are more benign now days. I hope so at least. Excellent post.
I enjoyed your opening when you mention knowledge of theory, but not any practical real world experience. I think each of us get slapped upside the head with the reality that most of what we learned from books only touches on what you will learn in "Hands On" reality. I remember a long time ago, pre-calculator; pre-CAD; almost pre-historic, trying to find an intersection point where a line intercepted a radius. I talked to my calculus teacher and he told me how it could be done by solving two equations simultaneously. So I brought him the drawing and his first question was, "Where did you get all of those wierd number?" I laughed and welcomed him to the real world where the answers were seldom whole numbers and not every angle was a multiple of 15.
I do not remember how I did it, but it worked and the two surfaces blended with a minimum of polishing. Once I started drawing everything in AutoCad, those problems disappeared, and while I was more productive, I did miss the challenge of math problems that covered several pages of longhand scribbles and numbers.
Battar wrote: "When I was a 20 year old computer technician (working on PDP-11s' and VAX 750s), there was no such thing as a "company Mercedes". My boss (actually, my commanding officer) had a Peugeot 104."
It was a quirk of the British tax system. It's similar to the US scheme where if they give you money you have to pay taxes on it, but if they pay your health insurance, you don't have to pay taxes. In the Britain of that era, there were no taxes (or significantly lower ones) on company cars so every professional employee got a car. It was a standard program administered by Personnel (the old name for HR). For each job level there was a set of available cars--you got to pick one from the list.
I was working for IBM in the US during that era (I started in 1968 and retired at the end of 2013) and we were envious of our British counterparts until we learned the terms of their program.
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