About Farms and Doughnut Shops

May 17th, 2018

The world is changing. Every day, you can see doughnut shops where there used to be farms. But why is this important for heavy equipment operator training?

Well, operators need their doughnuts as much as everyone else, so having more doughnut shops is surely a good thing. Unfortunately, having fewer farms is a bad thing, at least in the eyes of operator trainers of a certain age. Here’s why.

We all know that training new heavy equipment operators is hard work. And that’s why, when “older hands” get to talking, they’ll tell you that the job used to be easier because they had better training candidates.

In fact, there’s a popular myth, call it an agricultural (but not “urban”) legend that people, i.e. boys, coming off the farm have just the right profile.

And there are two parts to this legend.

First, farm boys are born with more operator aptitude than city boys. Second, farm boys have suitable “life experience” (as one trainer put it to me), growing up around farm machinery.

Well, as a city boy myself, I’m obliged to object to the first part. Of course, some people do come into this world with more musical talent, or athletic ability, or operator aptitude, than other people but it’s parents, not farms or cities, that are responsible.

Still, what about “life experience”? Well, growing up on a farm means learning to work hard, be accountable, and feel responsible, three key qualities that together spell “work ethic” and that’s what it takes to become a good heavy equipment operator.

Of course, lots of people grow up in the city and also learn to work hard, be accountable, and feel responsible. And everyone knows that city boys, not farm boys, work in doughnut shops. (And that’s good because otherwise, the doughnut shops would close down and equipment operators would go hungry, since we’re running out of farm boys.)

But when city boys leave the doughnut shops to become heavy equipment operators, well, that’s when problems arise.

Sad to say, your typical doughnut shop ex-employee doesn’t have much work ethic. (And, of course, he knows nothing about farm machinery.)

And that’s why the “old hands” will tell you that these days, the operator training has to start “earlier”, since those doughnut shop ex-employees need introductory help, and extra coaching.

But who has the time to do that, with trainers already scrambling to get home for dinner every now and then? Here’s where technology can help: simulator-based preparation for the real thing.