Pick Me!

A weblog by Laura Moncur


The Scotty Estimate Procedure

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Last Friday, the power went off at the office. I didn’t even bother to call the power company. I was sure that someone from a different building would call them to report the outage. The only reason I might want to call is to get an estimate of when the power would come back on, but their estimates are never correct. For the record, they usually over estimate and the power comes back hours earlier than the estimate. I guess they subscribe to the Scotty Estimate Procedure.

On the original series Star Trek, the Enterprise would always be in a bind or broken. Scotty would tell Captain Kirk how long it was going to take him to fix it. No matter how many times he told Captain Kirk that he couldn’t change the laws of physics, he would somehow get the Enterprise’s fat ass out of trouble way earlier than originally estimated. This is what I call the Scotty Estimate Procedure.

My power company really subscribes to the Scotty Estimate Procedure. I think they overestimate so that people will be very happy when their technicians finish early. Instead, it just makes me angry that they think that it’s acceptable for the power to be out for that long. Instead, it just inspires me to not bother to call them because the estimate is going to be inaccurate anyway.

I’ll never forget the episode of Voyager when the engineering officer, B’Elanna Torres , told Captain Janeway that she didn’t pad her estimates. If she said that it will take a few hours, it was going to take a few hours. I remember cheering for her and feeling so proud of how gutsy she was to stand up to Janeway. If Captain Kirk had said, “No, I want it done in two hours, not three,” Scotty would have just shrugged and did the job in two hours, knowing that the Scotty Estimate Procedure had been busted. Not B’Elanna. She makes an estimate and she is busting her butt to make it.

That’s what I want from my power company: an estimate that means something. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that if they said it was going to take all day to get the power on, we could send the employees home with the knowledge that we would have lost a whole day’s work anyway? Wouldn’t it be nice to know that it will only be about an hour until the power will come back, so everyone should go to lunch now? In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have power outages. I’m not asking for a perfect world. All I want is an accurate estimate of when the power will be back on. Is that too much, Scotty?


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