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This is a question Winging It

Don Spang says: I once found myself winging it in a job interview and somewhat exaggerated my technical experience in the field of mainframe computer operations. 24 years later, I'm still there. Ever had to improvise to get by? Tell us you tales of MacGyver-type genius.

(, Thu 28 Mar 2013, 12:31)
Pages: Popular, 3, 2, 1

This question is now closed.

I will get found out one day!
I wing it every day at work.
I don't mean to. I try really hard not to, but I have to.
As some of you know I am a British Sign Language (BSL) Interpreter.
Everyday I go into new situations with new people who use BSL or English in new and different ways with their own idiosyncrasy or vocabulary and I have to just try and keep up. I do love my job even though it's hard in any number of ways..
It can be with someone with learning difficulties, someone being told they are dying, a lecture on the historical relevance of the Quaker movement or how someone is going to divorce their partner and take their children and all their worldly goods.
And almost everyday I leave work going 'Fuuuuuuuuck' as I am not sure I have done justice to the language and communication that has occurred.
Thing is, I do get asked back. I have regular clients who have become friends. I know people respect me in my work and would try and book me before many others in my situation.
I know deep down I am great at what I do...but that feeling of FUCK won't go away.
However, every day, every minute I am wracked with insecurity about my own skills. I think I am a terrible interpreter, everyone else is better than me. I think it comes with the territory. We are constantly monitoring our own performance, and so we should be. Who wants someone who is going to tell a surgeon to cut off the wrong leg? Who wants to go to jail if I sign one wrong thing? Who wants to lose their kids due to my ineptitude?
Any second now someone is going to point at me and go 'YOU CAN'T DO YOUR JOB YOU ARE A CHARLATAN'
I won't be surprised, I am just waiting for it.
And I am going to go 'yeah, thank god, it only took you 12 years to realise, now I am free to fuck off and fuck up something else in life'
(, Tue 2 Apr 2013, 23:43, 25 replies)
law is such a worthwhile career
A friend required a number of o-levels to go to do law at uni, coming from a family of lawyers and judges he thought it time he stopped mucking about with his failed collage course in a craft industry. Each module counted as an o-level and there were six of them, sadly there they were listed, at the end of the letter it said FAIL. Uni required a photocopy of all o-levels attained. Folding under the last bit that said Fail worked wonderfully and he went on to pass law, work at a big Supermarkets legal department and now i believe works in medical law in the big smoke...
(, Tue 2 Apr 2013, 21:45, 19 replies)

(, Tue 2 Apr 2013, 21:06, 2 replies)
Getting out of RE homework
Long time lurker, first time poster etc.

This story concerns my friend Matt (for that is his name). In Year 7 or 8, we were given a short, simple piece of homework to do for RE. Now, the subject itself is a massive fucking joke, as is homework; but back then, we all saw it as really important, and feared the wrath (more than likely just a stern 'no excuse/you should have done it, you've had plenty of time' from the teacher) that would inevitably come from the teacher if we didn't get the homework done on time.

I got home, and did the homework; it took no more than ten minutes. It was some bullshit about Gandhi and the sanctity of life if I can remember. The next day, everyone's done it: bar Matt. He seems pretty calm about the whole thing though.

We get to RE, and we all give in our homework. The teacher gets to Matt, and stares at him, palm outstretched. Matt looks solemnly up at her.

"Miss, I haven't done it." Matt whimpers.

She sighs. "Why haven't you done it, Matthew?" She angrily asks, looking cross and more than a little bit pissed off.

Matt, rather than giving the general excuse of 'I forgot', comes out with the belter of an excuse: "My Dad died miss." He killed off a family member, just to get out of an insignificant piece of homework; a piece of homework, ironically, about the sanctity of life.

He played it off so well, and she bought it! She looked so sincere when she put her hand on his shoulder and gave her condolences. How Matt kept a straight face I'll never know. She must have been the most gullible teacher ever to walk the Earth (well, she is a Bible basher, so that speaks volumes) to think that someone would be in school the day after their Dad died.

So, Matt winged it by killing off a beloved family member to get out of homework...as a side note, in our leavers assembly, the speech I had written included many of Matt's bullshits (He claimed, among many other things, he can remember being a sperm), and the 'my dad died' story was in there. The teacher was at the assembly, and didn't look too pleased: in fact, she looked fucking pissed off.
(, Tue 2 Apr 2013, 19:49, 6 replies)
It's definitely dead this time, isn't it?
Even scaryduck and his 10g of valium a day can't keep up the pretence now.
(, Tue 2 Apr 2013, 17:30, 20 replies)
A happy coincidence
When I was younger, I was lucky enough to get into a very prestigious university. I was never particularly interested in politics or debating, mainly because I'm not very good at either, however a friend convinced me to join this dining club thing that was going on. It was kind of like a society, and I thought it'd be a nice way of getting to know people. At first it was awkward- I assumed we'd be talking about normal things like what jobs we'd had (I learned a lot in my job as a towel-folder, actually), but it turned out that none of them really had any experience. Soon the conversation turned to drugs, and it occurred to me that I hadn't actually taken any. Desperate as ever to fit in, I made up a story about how I'd once snorted a whole bag of ecstasy, which I thought would be impressive. Unfortunately for me, it turned out you can't actually snort it unless you cut it up on top of a Bible with a platinum card, and I had neither, having only gotten into the university on a sort of scholarship thing.

That's when these guys started passing around this white powder, all arranged in neat little lines on top of a copy of The Fountainhead. I didn't really know what to do when they finally passed it to me, but I must have done something right because ten minutes later we were throwing chairs around the restaurant and smashing open bottles of wine- really crazy stuff. I remember at one point the restaurant manager came over to kick us out, and my mate turns round to him and goes mental, saying shit like "watch your fucking back chappy, else I'll fuck you up good one of these days, I'll fucking bankrupt you, you little shit". I felt so bad for him. Then this other guy we were with pulls out the paper straw from before, and I'm thinking 'shitshitshit, not again', but instead of getting Ayn Rand'd again, he hands it to the guy and says "sorry mate, see you later".

Of course, I've got no idea what the hell is going on at this point, until I look back at the guy as I'm being dragged out of there, and I see him holding a blank cheque. Seriously, my mates and I took a shitload of drugs, fucked up a restaurant, and paid for it. Like just paid for it, and nobody even seemed to care.

Twenty years later, and we're best mates; we even work in the same office. Our wild days are behind us, though we do still occasionally fuck something up, just for a laugh and a bit of nostalgia.
(, Tue 2 Apr 2013, 17:09, 6 replies)
listen up, fatties!
when i first started to lose weight, i was in the weight-loss course at my local hospital. it was a lot more enjoyable than you might think and the experimental weight-loss drugs were pretty good, too.
after 6 months, i'd lost quite a bit of weight and the dietician asked me if i'd be willing to speak in front of the new group, to give them a bit of encouragement and insight from someone who'd already started the course..due to the fact that i thought i'd be one of many speakers, i agreed.
the day arrived and i very soon discovered that i was to be the only speaker, except from the dietician. i didn't have a fucking clue what i was doing.
and so followed an hour of me vainly attempting to answer questions about body mass index, calorific content and the comparative benefits of many different varieties of exercise. at the end of this hour, there was to be a proper q&a session with both me and the dietician. one particular bloke, who'd paid very little attention throughout(except for occasionally snorting derisively), waved a pudgy arm in the air and said "isn't this all just rubbish? i exercise, i eat the diet food, but i've put weight on. explain that, if you're so good!"
the dietician looked at him and replied "see that king-size mars bar you were eating outside when i got here? don't do that and you might lose weight."
tactless, perhaps, but a damn sight better than pussyfooting around someone who clearly wasn't ready to give the course a decent try.
(, Tue 2 Apr 2013, 15:21, Reply)
It's a sort of post-modern didactic that resorts to ephemera without needing to elucidate its central theme within the essential discourse.

(, Tue 2 Apr 2013, 14:54, 4 replies)
I once had to pretend to be Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands
I think I managed it successfully. At least no one in the Halal Fried Chicken shop said anything when I ordered two drumsticks.
(, Tue 2 Apr 2013, 14:20, 3 replies)

(, Tue 2 Apr 2013, 13:04, Reply)
I once entered a competition
and received Duncan Bannatyne as a prize.
(, Tue 2 Apr 2013, 12:41, Reply)

I’ve winged (wung?) it pretty much me whole life.

After leaving school with no qualifications, childhood in care, dyslexia rendered me functionally illiterate etc etc, the world of work was not presenting itself with many exciting opportunities. Work such as digging holes or cleaning up shit where to avenues open to me.

But listen up kids, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s not hard to be the brightest guy in the room when you in a room full of retards, and the brightest guy in the room soon gets to be the boss of the retards. I like to think of myself as king of the retards.
(, Mon 1 Apr 2013, 14:04, 10 replies)

(, Mon 1 Apr 2013, 11:46, 13 replies)
It's World Autism Awareness Day tomorrow
I'll be doing my bit by coming here and reading your stories.
(, Mon 1 Apr 2013, 6:44, 12 replies)
No real plan before I walk into the kitchen, just get on and pull something together with whatever's available to feed the brood.

Few complaints other than the spirit of Gordon nob-end Ramsey seems to take over so it's no fun to be in the kitchen with me while I'm at it, but positive reception for the vast majority of grub I've served up over the years.

Exception was an aubergine and tomato tian. The oven disgorged a stinking greasy fucking mess. An offensive, oily, slimey, steaming dish of shit unfit for man or beast.

Still managed to get a fair portion down though.
(, Mon 1 Apr 2013, 2:17, 1 reply)
School physics lessons.
Dr Q. is teaching us GCSE physics and trying to get on to the subject of AC current and transformers. Youngster-RWH is chatting at the back and obviously not paying attention to the Dr.

Dr Q. observes this and after having produced the tray with the lab equipment in (laminated transformer W-piece and top piece, square bobbins with '1000 turns', '100 turns' and '200 turns' Dymo-labelled, wrapped with copper wire/terminated with 4mm sockets, and an AC-range digital volt meter, calls my attention and the whole class is suddenly concentrating on me.

"So, RWH- I assume you know all about this because you're not listening to me explaining this. So, why don't you come down and do the demonstration instead so we can all learn what you know".

Oh shit.

Oh hang on.

This is AC transformers, I saw this in the encyclopedia at home last week....(I was actually looking up something for geography homework and it was on the next page, the diagram looked intriguing so i read it up).

I didn't know all the terminology but I recognised that you put mains through the primary and the ratio of turns on the primary to the secondary changed the output voltage, so I wired it all up with 4mm leads and showed- look, 240 volts in, 24 volts out (100 turns on the secondary) but then if you change the secondary with 100 windings on for the winding with 200 turns on and remade the top bar and showed the output voltage had gone up to 48 on the scale.

Dr Q. Glared at me for a moment and then realised he created the scenario and I'd somehow navigated through it without giving him the excuse to punish me, so just curtly said "OK. Go back to your seat".

Mind you, the same guy also told me to expect a detention for not handing in my homework one lesson, during the content of that lesson I actually completed it and gave him my book. He relented and said- "Well, why didn't you hand it in if you'd done it? OK, no detention. Go home."

(, Mon 1 Apr 2013, 1:50, 2 replies)
My entire love life.
No idea what I'm doing.
(, Mon 1 Apr 2013, 0:08, 2 replies)
My mum.
Was a flying instructor.
She used to build up her flying hours and get a free fly (no hiring the plane or paying for fuel) by giving instruction at the local flying club. As she was a single mum and I an only child that basically meant I spent a good portion of my weekends sitting in the back seat/luggage compartment of a single prop Cessna feeling queasy whilst watching my mum put some novice pilot thu their paces.

My mum as an educator (she ended up getting a doctorate based in education) was a great believer in "hands on learning". As an instructor this meant putting the student pilots in real situations to make sure that they knew what to do if certain things eventuated. She had flown everything from DC-10's to gliders and ultralights in all sorts of circumstances. To her, experience was the greatest teacher.
This meant that many of the scenarios other instructors might gloss over, she made the hapless students experience 1st hand.

Forced stalls - mostly done with forced landings maybe less than a hundred feet off the deck. Mum made them do it at several thousand feet. Your plane isn't always going to stall on the level, with flaps on full at stall speed is it now? So when you start to drop out of the sky and lose altitude rapidly it kinda makes finding a solution to the problem somewhat more of a sweat-breaker than it does when you have the runway in front of you and you were coasting in for a landing anyway.

CAT or clear air turbulence. Until you've experienced it you have no idea what it's like.
You're flying along happily when all of a sudden your plane drops up to a couple of hundred feet in a few seconds, leaving your stomach and anything you haven't evacuated out of it stuck to the roof of the aeroplane.
This was a fave of mums. In Mt. Isa, Queensland the wet season usually has daily thunderstorms in the afternoon. Fly thru 1 of those thunderheads and there's a good chance you'll get a taste of an air pocket. Scary as fuck but there's a good chance that sometime a pilot will get caught in bad weather (no amount of planning can cover that) so my mum would make the student pilots face the situation head-on by finding a thunderstorm and flying thu it.
At best we'd go through some rough and choppy air and get bounced around the cabin a bit, at worst we'd do the CAT dance and at least one of us would lose our lunches. Usually me.

As you might conclude from this tale I have a healthy aversion to getting my feet too far off the ground unless I absolutely have to.
Christ knows how many airsickness bags I chucked my nuts up into during the 70's and 80's but I reckon the highest points of distribution would've been where-ever my mum was training.

In the spirit of Juan Quar's post - my mum wasn't winging it so much as she didn't mind not being totally in control and certainly knew how to enjoy herself when the shit did hit the fan...

tl;dr - My mother tortured me and many student pilots by putting us in very serious predicaments whilst flying an airplane in the name of teaching the students how to deal with something first-hand.

EDIT: Despite the fact that my mum and grandfather both got their pilot's licenses at Biggin Hill (albeit 40 odd years apart - I think my grand-dad did it out of shame and competitiveness against his daughter) I have no desire whatsoever to learn how to fly.
(, Sun 31 Mar 2013, 6:06, 52 replies)
Temping as a demolitions expert
I never had a great education, living out in the middle of nowhere, but I somehow managed to get a temp job doing demolitions.

My first assignment was massive, apparently the place was the headquarters of some multi-national organisation or something. Having never done anything like this before, I was quite nervous, but I had support from a few colleagues, and I'd been provided with a computer and software to help calculate where to place the charges. However, something didn't sit right with me, so I decided to ignore the computer and go with my gut instincts.

The bosses weren't too pleased when they heard, naturally. You just can't afford to botch these type of things. In the end I pulled it off fine, much to the relief of everyone back at base, and the place came apart spectacularly!

The twats rebuilt it though :'(
(, Sun 31 Mar 2013, 4:43, 4 replies)
Dong an MA in criminology a few years ago, we all had to give the usual presentations
and quite formulaic they were too, with a talk, a handout or two, a PowerPoint display and a Q&A session.

I decided to do something different: sack off all the paperwork, and just present a nice picture to, hopefully, start a discussion.

I started by asking people not to write anything down, just to look at the picture and listen for a bit, and then share what they thought, promising to email everyone with references later.

I chose Omnibus Life In London, painted in 1859 by William Maw Egley and chatted about how it shows the omnibus passengers, of different social classes and occupations, variously observing and ignoring each other.
We see hints of mortality and immorality, giving an impression of both the the discomforts and the opportunities of modern life, and especially the possibilities of disease and crime.

Anyway… it went stunningly. I knew the subject really well and didn't need notes, and everyone sportingly joined in with a lovely criminological/art history discussion. I felt that the class had looked at the subject from a new direction AND I got a really good mark.

Best of all, everyone else's presentations changed drastically after that! One week we had a talk about a photo of people being shoved onto the Japanese bullet trains, to illustrate the pressures of modern life and their part in the problem of crime.

Another person based their discussion of the civilising effects of sport on society on the then-current World Cup, when the English fans were apparently waving inflatable Spitfires at the Germans!

My comeback gimmick was giving out a plastic fork with the name 'Elias' written on it to each student to symbolise that philosopher's ideas on the 'socialisation' of societies.

Soon everyone was winging it and we had a bit of fun in our presentation, with some really interesting discussions. What we learned was: if you've researched well enough you don't need a script, and your enthusiasm will be catching.
(, Sat 30 Mar 2013, 23:32, 9 replies)
I'm a bit pissed, I've just replied to a post that indirectly references me...
I've sent a gaz too... and I have no idea what I'm going to say if either my post or my gaz get a reply :/
(, Sat 30 Mar 2013, 23:01, 31 replies)
Christmas show on the Women's Report
When I was ten, one of my classmates' mothers hosted a 15-minute TV show every weekday afternoon, just before the late afternoon movie, called "The Women's Report". At Christmas time, it was decided we would present a live Christmas play - Baby Jesus and the Three Wise Men. Because of my smooth delivery, I was chosen to narrate the story.

The experience was far more distracting than I had first realized. My classmates were petrified at being on TV. One friend tried hiding behind the foliage and the stuffed sheep. Others mumbled their lines. Suddenly, across the TV studio, I saw the host of the Saturday kids' cartoon show. He was famous! What was he doing? To my alarm, he sat down on a bench to watch what we were doing.

Suddenly, I lost my place in the script. I was on the verge of panic. Nevertheless, I had practiced so much, I was able to deliver the remainder of the story from memory.

So, slightly off-topic. I didn't wing it precisely. I didn't improvise. It's just that I had more capabilities than I was aware.
(, Sat 30 Mar 2013, 16:09, 4 replies)
I like eggs.

(, Sat 30 Mar 2013, 12:20, 12 replies)
As a teenager I once borrowed a paperback copy of The Exorcist, which was THE hot book at the time, for just one night.
The person who lent it had borrowed it from someone else so I had to read it quickly.

Next morning in a Human Biology 'O' Level class I was asked a quite basic question about the spinal column.

Ahhh, I thought, I know this! and went on for several minutes about spinal fluid and how it can be tapped to provide a specimen for analysis where conditions such as meningitis are suspected.
The teacher and class were amazed. I had obviously researched this subject in some depth.

I'd actually got all my information from the book, where Regan's spinal tap is fully described and explained.

Reminds me of a comic character who made me laugh as a kid by giving a little lecture in class about a king of England, which shocked the teacher who'd assumed the lad would know nothing about the subject.
Of course, this was the 60s, and the character had read the information on the cornflake packet at breakfast.
(, Sat 30 Mar 2013, 9:30, 4 replies)
I keep getting this pink highlighted warning telling me I already posted that.
(, Sat 30 Mar 2013, 6:24, 2 replies)
Once, on a website I used to moderate on..
..someone accused a regular user who'd been bereaved in traumatic fashion of murdering their spouse.
So, I acted decisively and edited and any posts containing an image of a character from a children's TV show or crudely drawn cocks.
(, Sat 30 Mar 2013, 1:39, 19 replies)
Winging it on the wing
Several years ago my wife, 2 kids, some friends and their two kids were happily sat on a Boeing 747 about to depart for some sunshine and silliness in Orlando. The plane took off without incident and we settled down to a long and expectedly dull flight whilst trying to entertain/contain our excited offspring.
This particular aircraft had those little screens on the back of the headrests from which you could choose from several different films etc. ideal I thought, that'll keep 'em occupied for a while, but 15 minutes into the flight the screens on the back of the chairs were still not working, they would play for a few seconds, freeze, then restart again. At that time I was employed as a 'TV engineer' which actually meant I worked in a back street repair shop. Feeling a little irked by complaints from my kids I asked a passing stewardess what was wrong with the screens "I am sorry sir but the system is playing up, we are working on it though and will hopefully get it resolved soon" I don't know why I said it but it just fell out of my mouth "well I'm a video engineer, I could have a look if you want!" she smiled, said nothing and whent on her way.
A few minutes later she came back and asked "you said you were a video engineer?" "yes" I gulped, "well if you wouldn't mind having a look I would be very grateful" What could I do! I tapped my friend on his shoulder and asked him to follow me (I needed some moral support) got up and followed her through first class to the business end of the plane. I was presented with a bank of 8mm video players which were stopping and starting all on their own, "They are controlled by this" she said and pointed at a small PC screen. I touched the keyboard beneath it and the screen asked for a password "it's BA***w" (edited) she said. I logged in and had not a clue as to what I was going to do next, there were now three crew watching me, I was beginning to sweat then my friend whispered in my ear "it's a computer, just turn it off and on again" brilliant i thought and did just that, selected log off, waited for the screen to go blank then turned of a big red power switch, waited a few moment then turned it back on again. At this point a phone that hung on the wall in the galley rang, it was the pilot asking what was going on, she said a passenger was an engineer and was looking at the video system, she looked at me and said "who do you work for sir?" urm.... "Sony" I said (I just chose the make of the video players they had) the discussion with the pilot continued and she was clearly being told off. However, turning the computer off and on again fixed the problem, I logged back in and the video players sprang to life and worked normally, disaster averted. I walked back to my seat a hero and to rounds of applause from the passengers.

We were given two bottles of champagne as a thank you, I did ask for an upgrade to first class but alas there were no seats left.

She did tell me though that if they could not get the system working they would have had to refund every passenger £25.00.

That's definetly one for my CV: fixing a Boeing 747 in flight :-)
(, Fri 29 Mar 2013, 22:58, 9 replies)

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