Last Monday started out as a fairly normal day at my work. I'm part of the Engineering crew at a local hospital that normally maintains HVAC systems and other assorted mechanical equipment. I clocked in that morning at my usual time and went about my normal duties. It's all pretty mundane stuff, so much that it's not huge exaggeration to say a technician could set a clock on when a piece of equipment will go bad again after being fixed.
That day was a little different in that I was part of a crew that had to work on a stuck heat valve above the ceiling in the Labor and Delivery department. In fact that valve was located in the ceiling above the new born nursery where four babies were being carefully watched over by a couple of attentive nurses. It goes without saying those two nurses weren't happy that three guys from Engineering were in their work area. But the nursery was too hot and we had traced the problem to that stuck valve.
Having the valve in the ceiling above the nursery was simply a case of poor design but all that was decided years ago. For the Engineering crew I was part, we had to work swiftly and as quietly as possible to drain the water line, clear out or replace the valve, then leave the area without disturbing the babies.
Luckily all we had to do was drain that particular water line, which flushed out a nice chunk of trash allowing the valve to open and close properly. We were out of the nursery in about forty-five minutes with the area now cooling as it should. That still left the matter of gathering up our equipment and putting the ceiling tiles back in place. That last part fell to me as the other two guys began heading back to our shop.
Once done, I glanced over to the sleeping babies and became thoughtful about the future for a moment.
“Hang tight, kids” I said to the babies without really thinking. “It's going to be a rough century.”
One of the L&D nurses heard my words and looked at me like I was crazy before walking off. The other nurse also looked at me, smiled and nodding in agreement as I left the room.