Friday, September 14, 2012

I Fell for a "Work-at Home" Scam

You'd think I'd know better. I mean, everyone knows those "Earn hundreds of dollars stuffing envelopes in your home" type things are fake. But this one seemed so good I decided to go for it. "Easy assembly!" "You can do it in your spare time!" "Loads of fun!" "Promotes world peace and the re-growth of hair!" "Will add years to your life!" How could I refuse? So I signed up.

Besides, my own sister was the one promoting it, and I trust her.

At least I DID.....

The job was constructing "jumpers", lengths of cable for hooking up satellite systems to the TV. Part of what my brother-in-law, Jack, does to fill his time is installing the TV systems for the many man camps springing up in the oil fields. Evidently, the modern "toughneck", as the oil worker is called out here, cannot work without his personal, operational TV. Wiring a man camp for satellite is considered a vital part of the construction, somewhere up there with having functional toilets.

Noni is the one who usually helps out with the jumpers, but for some reason, she found herself unable to do this job. Oh, she was disappointed---you could see that---but she managed to gain control of emotions and hand over all of the supplies to my mom (yes, she even scammed her own mother!).

The first step to making jumpers is having an explosion of cable, tools, and other parts in your previously clean living room. After "seasoning" the room with the appropriate level of debris, you are ready to begin the actual construction process. Jumpers are made by cutting a specified length of cable (one short and one long one make a pair) with wire cutters. Then you take a special wire stripper that clears a length of cable to the right shape and length. After that, you  bend all the little fibrous wire back from the main copper wire; this is important, because if even one of the tiny, hair-like wires touches the copper, you will short out that room's entire electrical system. The next step is to slip a cap over the cable...supposedly. In real life, it almost never "slips" and has to be forced on using a special tool and lots of brute strength (you will soon find brute strength in very short supply). All you have left to do now is crimp the ends using the crimper. That part at least is easy.

There, you have made your first jumper.

And it only took twenty minutes.

And you only have 429 more to do. That number is not hyperbole. That is the actual amount that we need to make to finish this man camp. This number doesn't count all the miscellaneous cables connecting the dish to the sectional panels, panels to sections, etc. Unfortunately for me, these will have to be made on-site, and I will be unable to help out. Forgive me while I pause to mourn.

My mom spent all afternoon working on jumpers, and then when I came home, I helped out for a couple hours. Through our combined efforts we managed to get 60 pairs done. Our hands were killing us. Did I say hands? They were more like deformed claws.

Personally, I am beginning to doubt the sincerity of Noni's grief at not being able to do this herself. Maybe that's why she was dancing that little jig after she handed over all the stuff....

The pitiful fruits of our efforts.


  1. Next time, I'll let you sit in the office and copy and paste 636 numbers from one tab to the next. It wasn't painful to my fingers, but my eyes may never uncross.

  2. Also, there is usually only one jumper per room. You made it just in time for the TV's that needed an extra jumper, since the other attachments weren't compatible - LUCKY YOU! After all, more jumpers mean more opportunity. :)