Knowing when to quit and ask for help

Recently, our office phone system had a problem. In the middle of the day, for no explainable reason, we started hearing a popping sound coming from the paging speakers. When we looked at the hardware, we found one beige box clicking, the LEDs on its face blinking with the click, and the popping noise over the speakers. We traced the wires back from this box to our main phone control and to an amplifier for the speakers, but couldn’t really figure out what purpose this box performed.

How hard could this be?

Given a rudimentary understanding of electricity, loudspeaker wiring, and basic phone installation, we figured we could find a way to get our paging system to work without this broken beige box. After all, how hard could it be? Famous last words.

Not ours, but a TF500 like ours found on an old eBay listing
Not ours, but a TF500 like ours found on an old eBay listing

As it turns out, it’s harder than we initially thought. Believe it or not, the phone installer who first set the system up knew what he was doing, and that box served a purpose. After clipping some wires, doing some soldering, plugging and unplugging things multiple times, we decided it’s time to quit and call in a professional.

Quitting doesn’t mean failing

When the repair tech came out, he brought in two different devices to try, plus his test gear. He spent a couple hours making connections, testing for noise, proper audio levels, switching and connecting, and eventually got us hooked up with a new paging amplifier. Considering how long the previous system lasted, what it cost us to have this new one installed seems like a bargain.

Even though we quit working on the phones, we didn’t take it as a failure. After all, telephone installs aren’t what we do. I don’t think trying something new and not accomplishing your end goal really counts as a failure, since you weren’t necessarily equipped to succeed in the first place. If it worked out and we were able to fix the phones, great. If we had to quit and get some help, no big deal. Don’t be afraid to start something because you might have to quit doing it later. There’s value in starting.