I think part of the 'right of passage' during apprentice ships is the certain amount of larking about and leg pulling that goes on. So long as it's not intended cruelly, it is important to learn when these moments are valuable.
The guys had a young apprentice working with them, his father a respected businessman, and probably from all account the young man needed a little 'wake up', into the real adult world of working responsibilities.
The Foreman wrote out a list of things needed at the local building suppliers and on the list was 'A long wait'. Now duly all the items on the list were supplied by the building supplier, except at each counter the young man patiently waited while the counter assistant went in search of the 'long wait'. At each counter the invantory was checked, and there was definately one in stock. However the location of this 'long wait' was difficult to pin down.
Each counter the young man visited the person on duty, duly checked their invantory, and said; 'Yes, we definately have one in this department, I will go and look for it'.
However after at least fifteen minutes, (which in 'old money' is a moment), the counter assistant came back and said they were very sorry but they couldn't locate the 'long weight'.
The young Man arrived back on site three hours later. He had with him all the required items on the list that he was asked to 'gofer'. However he explained that there wasn't a long weight in the shop. They said they had one, but at each counter they couldn't actually put their hand on it.
The Forman asked to see the list again and pointed to what he had written down. 'There it is' He said, 'A long wait'.
Ohhhhhh, I just thought you couldn't spell.
That's a 'Lightbulb' moment.
More later I am supposed to be entertaining and I am being rude.