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Electricians Aren't Magicians, But Their Rabbits Disappear, Too


A soap maker...


A gemologist...

SIEGEL: ...A few motorcyclists...

BLOCK: ...A sail maker...

SIEGEL: ...Some baristas...

BLOCK: ...A couple of strippers...

SIEGEL: ...Some radiologists...

BLOCK: ...And a merman. All of those people have written us for our series on trade lingo. We've been collecting insider terms from professions or hobbies - terms that would be foreign, real stumpers to those of us on the outside. Well, today we'll hear from an apprentice electrician, Haley Masbruch, of Tacoma, Washington. When she started training, she kept hearing a word she didn't quite expect, rabbit.

HALEY MASBRUCH: Rabbits is what we call all the leftover trimmings of large copper electrical wire that are left over after we do an installation. And so the reason we call this rabbits is because all these copper trimmings end up in the electrical room, kind of piled up. And because copper has such an excellent cash-in value at the metal scrap yards, it tends to disappear and run away very quickly if you don't keep an eye on it.


MASBRUCH: So we call all of this rabbits 'cause it tends to go away with someone else and not back to the shop or wherever else it's going to go.

BLOCK: So if you blink, it's gone kind of thing.

MASBRUCH: That's right.

BLOCK: So Haley, as you've been training in this apprentice program, as part of the training, does the lingo just sort of get folded in?

MASBRUCH: It does, and it gets much easier to understand what's going on on a job as you go along. I remember my very - one of my first weeks on the job someone told me to bend some conduit, kick a 90, stub it out into this room here and make sure there's not a wow. And to me, I didn't know what they were talking about, but now I know that they wanted me to bend a 90 degree angle in a piece of conduit, poke it into another room and make sure that it doesn't end up crooked when I do it.

BLOCK: Make sure it's not a wow - is that what you said?

MASBRUCH: Yes. When we bend conduit, we will make offset sometimes. And a wow happens - it's also called a dog leg, and that happens when the piece of conduit is not bent in the same plane for both bends, so it ends up looking like a crooked dogleg or a wow - wow that looks bad.

BLOCK: (Laughing) Haley, how'd you decide to become an electrician?

MASBRUCH: Well, I knew that I liked to work physically but also work with my mind. And as an apprentice working toward becoming a licensed electrician, I'm seeing that installing electrical systems is hard physical work, but it's also like a puzzle that needs to get put together correctly for a system to function. And so the trade really activates both sides of things that I like to do most. So that's kind of why I joined the trade.

BLOCK: Well, Haley Masbruch, best of luck with the rest of your apprenticeship program and thanks for talking to us.

MASBRUCH: Thank you so much, Melissa. I really appreciate your call.

BLOCK: That's Haley Masbruch of Tacoma, Washington. And we appreciate learning your lingo, please keep it coming our way. We are on Facebook or Twitter at NPR ATC. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.