Engineer Disease by Lee Hart

Engineer Disease
Lee Hart

Hello Mrs. Murphy, how has Tommy been today?
You said he stays indoors and reads while others are at play?
He doesn’t care a bit for sports, and doesn’t watch TVs,
Unless it’s a computer screen of mindless jargonese?

You say you tried Nintendo games, the ones that I prescribed?
But he disassembled them to see what was inside.
Last week he mixed the chemicals you keep under the sink.
It ate holes in the vinyl floor and made an awful stink.

There’s grease beneath his fingernails, and acid holed his jeans.
Those marks upon his fingers are from soldering, it seems.
There is no need for further tests; dress now if you please.
Young man, I fear you’re suffering from Engineer Disease.

Widespread in the ‘60’s, it drove men to the moon.
And it could happen yet again unless we cure it soon.
It’s showing up at MIT, and in the Japanese
They face an epidemic of the Engineer Disease.

In early stages patients tend to ask “Why…” all the time.
Next they disassemble things; then “fix” things that are fine.
Though math and science skills excel, emotion atrophies.
It’s all the sad prognosis of the Engineer Disease.

Compose yourself, my dear; it’s not as hopeless as you think.
It’s not as if he uses drugs, or alcoholic drink.
But you must curb his use of tools and fancy new PCs
To help control the progress of his Engineer Disease.

At last that kid is finally gone: Nurse, call x-ray repair.
He moved this wire here, I think, but I don’t know from where.
They just can’t leave a thing alone. Next patient please.
Let’s hope it’s not another case of Engineer Disease!

===From the Poet===

This was inspired by the Dire Straits song “Industrial Disease”. It’s a patter song; not really sung, but recited like rap. Their song is about pollution. I simply kept the pattern of the verses, and wrote new lyrics.

I sent it to Scott Adams (creator of the Dilbert comic strip). He liked it enough to make a little cartoon of young Dilbert at the doctor’s office.

Dilbert: The Knack

I suppose it describes me (and every other engineer I know). Mothers, beware of the symptoms before it is too late!


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