An old-school engineer retired from the company he’d spent most of his career with.  He’d spent several decades looking after a factory, and knew every system in it inside and out.

He enjoyed his retirement, and appreciated being away from the hustle and bustle. His new leisure time gave him a new lease on life, and he found lots of new pursuits to keep himself engaged.

But unbeknownst to him, the machinery in his old factory didn’t have the same staying power, and shortly after he left the company a fault developed.

The new engineer couldn’t work out the problem.  The production line was halted, vendors were called in, lots of expensive head-scratching but no solution.  Everyone was pulling their hair out, customers were screaming, pure corporate carnage.

The factory boss called up his old engineer.  "Mate!  We have a problem with the plant!"

"That’s bad for you," his ex-employee replied, "Why is it my problem?"

"We’ve tried everything. We can’t fix it.  Can we trouble you to come back in to help us get back online?  No expense spared!"

The engineer reluctantly agreed.  He drove back into his old workplace, stood on the factory floor for a few minutes quietly listening to the hum and rhythm of the plant, then, barely hesitating, made a chalk mark on a pipe.

"Drill an inspection hole there, you’ll find it’s blocked. That’s your problem," then he left.

In his absence they drilled the hole, found the blockage, patched it up and everything returned to normal.  Brilliant result!

Several weeks later, the CFO hit the roof.  The engineer had sent his bill:  "Rectification of machinery fault: $1,000,000."  The matter was escalated all the way to the CEO, who declared that there was no possible way that 5 minutes of work could possibly be charged at a million bucks, and demanded an itemized bill to get to the bottom of it.

The engineer sighed.  "Fine," he said, "I’ll send you an itemized bill."

Days later, it arrived, and it looked like this:

 

Callout Fee

$250.00

Travel @ $100 per hour

$100.00

Piece of chalk

$0.10

Knowing where to put the chalk mark

$999,649.90

Total:

$1,000,000.00