My wife, Donna, is a band instrument repair person. She has been repairing instruments for twenty-one years. She has become proficient at it. As a member of NAPBIRT (National Association of Professional Band Instrument Repair Technicians), she has shared and had shared with her some interesting stories and images, such as a trumpet that a person ran over and flattened totally, then brought it in, thinking it could be repaired. As one technician said, “It went from a C trumpet to an A flat trumpet.” One day, a young band instrument technician shared his story.

Lance  had gone through some of the best training a person could have for band instrument repair. There are two ways to get this training: a trade school or an apprenticeship. Lance had done both. He then went on to work for a music store for a few years before setting up his own shop.

Previous to starting his own business, the shops he worked in had all been set up for him. He just had to do the work. It was exciting for him to set up his own shop. He could put the tools and materials where he wanted them. And one thing he wanted was to have the things he used within easy reach. Something that really annoyed him was that the school and the shop he worked in had some things so far away.

He had grown up with a father that wanted his wood shop a particular way, and every wrench had its spot, which was labeled. Similarly, the shops he worked in had a certain spot for everything, and he was required to put it back in its place when he was done.

Of course, Lance made sure he had the safety equipment in place that he had been trained to have. Nearby was the water spray bottle, the most crucial tool for any little flame that might get out of hand. As a last resort, a fire extinguisher hung on the wall.

Lance liked his convenient little shop. He didn’t have to go far for the things he consistently used. One of these was the rust remover. In the other shops, it was on a shelf a distance away from his workbench. Though it was only five steps away, it was an annoyance to go get it and then have to put it back. It seemed like every instrument that came in was stuck in some way and needed something to break through the corrosion.

Lance did an excellent job and business quickly picked up. The efficiency of his shop made it so he was able to do a few extra instruments each day and make more money.

One day, Lance was brazing a piece of metal with a butane burner. To keep the instrument piece from getting scratched or dented, he had it sitting on a rug piece on his workbench. But in the process, he got the fire a little too close to the carpet. This was not the first time this had happened. Most technicians he knew used something like a carpet under the instruments when they worked on them, and that was how he had been trained.

Lance didn’t even get excited. He just reached for the ever-constant water bottle to put it out. But just as he hit the spray nozzle, he realized that instead of water, he had grabbed a can of WD-40. Suddenly, a fireball engulfed the area in front of him, including the instrument he had been working on.

He quickly grabbed the water spray and put out the fire in short order. Maybe putting the flammable chemicals a distance away and walking to get them was a good idea. Perhaps others had done something similar, and that was why they had them where they did.

Lance moved the chemicals across the room, then went to change his underwear, grateful that was the only incidental damage of the mishap.