Illegal in 38 states–frowned upon in the rest.

Putting One Thing on Top of Another Thing


An example of my capabilities.
(image source:

“Do you understand?” He was gaping at me the way someone would who had just tried to explain calculus to an ape. And not one of those clever apes that knows sign language, but one those apes on the nature channel that’s eating its own poop.

“Seriously?” I responded.

“Yeah,” he spat the word at me in the most condescending arrogant voice he could conjure. “Did you understand what I just explained to you?”

Note: in fairness to him, the most condescending arrogant voice he could conjure turned out to simply be his voice.

Allow me to go back to the beginning and explain: I am referring to an experience I had as a temporary worker. When you’re a temporary worker, there are certain things that are presumed:

  • You possess the education of a 12th century manure mucker, your biggest aspiration is to one day be allowed to use a shovel.
  • You need everything explained to you at least a dozen times.
  • You need everything explained in a tone that one would use when explaining to a small child why he shouldn’t eat all the fingerpaint and vomit into the fish tank.
  • You need everything explained to you in monosyllabic language. (Ironically, the word monosyllabic is exactly the type of word that should never be used when explaining something to a temporary worker.)
  • You need everything explained to you with accompanying diagrams. These diagrams should be drawn in crayon if possible.
  • All diagrams should be drawn in non-threatening colors such as forest green or navy blue. Bright colors confuse and disorient temporary workers (fuchsia makes us crazy).

I was interrupted from my duties by Rat-Faced Guy, (not his actual name) who informed me that he needed my assistance.

He dragged me over to a line where juice was being packaged in small cans. As cases of these cans progressed down the line, a machine would lift every other case and then fling the cans into the air, spilling them across the floor. Evidently, that’s not how the machine was designed to operate.

Rat-Faced Guy (probably not his name) explained to me that the malfunctioning machine would be shut down, and I would step in to take its place. As the cases came down the line in pairs, it would be my job to pick up the first case of juice, and place it on top of the second case of juice. Then I would have to do that again and again, until the machine was operating properly again.

It was at point that Rat-Faced Guy (potentially his actual name, when I say Rat-Faced Guy, people seem to know whom I’m referring to) asked me if I understood.

“So, you’re asking me if I understand putting one thing on top of another thing?” I asked him.

“Yeah.” He looked at me with his beady eyes, his wispy mustache twitching nervously.

“What if, instead of putting the first case on top of the second, I put the second case under the first case?” I proposed.

Rat-Faced Guy (probably his actual name) looked at me incredulously. “Why would you do that?”

“I’m a visionary,” I told him. “I’m like Henry Ford, Steve Jobs, or Thomas Crapper.”

“Just do it the way I told you,” squeaked Rat-Faced Guy (almost certainly his actual name).

For the next two hours, I stood in one spot, and successfully put one thing on top of another thing.

Perhaps now they will trust me with something challenging such as putting one thing next to another thing.

The sky’s the limit.


I know what you’re thinking: Thomas Crapper, a visionary? The toilet guy? Yes. Thomas Crapper, the toilet guy, was a visionary. Consider what it was he proposed. Try to imagine the first time he discussed it with his friends:

Thomas Crapper: You know how outhouses are filthy and disgusting places, riddled with rats and snakes.

Friend #1: Horribly dirty things, outhouses.

Thomas Crapper: And you know how we put them a certain distance from our homes because of the stench and the disease and the vermin.

Friend #1: Yes.

Friend #2: Ha, vermin’s a funny word.

Thomas Crapper: I’m thinking about moving that inside the house.

Friend #1: That’s insane.

Thomas Crapper: Maybe put it in a small room near the bedroom.

Friend #1: That’s just crazy talk. Is this because we keep making fun of your name? Because if it is we can stop.

Friend #2: Ha, Crapper is a funny name; I’m not stopping.

Thomas Crapper: We could even put it in the same room we bathe.

Friend #1: Now you’ve gone off the deep end. Next you’ll be telling us about a machine that will allow men to fly.

Thomas Crapper: Well, there are these two brothers named Wilbur and Orville, and they have an idea.

Friend #2: Ha, Wilbur and Orville, those are funny names.

idiotprufs, rat cartoon

An uncanny likeness to Rat-Faced Guy, and possible outhouse resident.
(image source:


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34 thoughts on “Putting One Thing on Top of Another Thing

  1. It’s a good thing that the toilet guy was named Thomas Crapper not Thomas Focker.


  2. The Romans had indoor plumbing, Crapper just refined it!
    I think I’ve worked with Rat Face before, no thinking, I know I have worked with him!!
    I thought temps where just in the office, huh! learn something new everyday!


  3. longchaps2 on said:

    Clearly you were not destined to be a peon, you had a finely tuned sarcastic wit and a brain. A managers worst nightmare.


  4. Are you sure the machine wasn’t working properly? There are probably a dozen engineers needed to make a machine that lifts every other case and flings it into the air. One idiot could do this easily, but it’s advanced programming for a robot.


  5. Those first 6 things…Well lemme tell ya, 33 years of teaching teenagers leads me to believe the last two generations are as dumb as rocks and fearful that the entire country is at verge of collapse. One anecdote: Drawings and maps could be done in pencil(colored ones too of course). But writing to be done in blue or black ink only. Wrong ink color-papers handed back with F and comment “blue or black ink only”. Week after week after week and same nonsense. Some never got it. Astonishing.

    You might think this was a trivial matter about which to be concerned but it is a curriculum benchmark and life skill that “the student will follow oral and written directions”. If you can’t do this, you are unemployable.

    On first and second day of school and for later entering teens I had them fill out a 3×5 general info card. Pencil please. I drew a 12 foot pencil on the board to help them follow the direction. A full 25% did it in pen. Astonishing. This is one reason management takes it for granted that everyone is stupid. Seems most people are.


  6. I’m surprised they trusted you to empty the bottles into the barrel without at least a day of supervised training. Rat-faced Guy sounds like the type to be very thorough about that sort of thing.


  7. That reminds me of a skit from SNL where one of the characters tries to explain to another one how to run a simple conveyor belt, trying to get him to understand the difference between the green, yellow, and red light. Glad to hear you met your challenge!


  8. I feel your pain. Rat-faced guy is lucky to have you.


  9. This entire post makes me want to ask…do you replace the toilet paper with the paper unrolling from the front, or from the back? It’s a question I’m sure Rat-Faced Guy would never think to ask.


  10. I suspect that Rat Faced Guy is probably related to the assistant manager of a place I used to work at. Her name is “Panties In A Bunch”.


  11. Hmm, I think Thomas Crapper was once a temporary worker at the same juice company. Otherwise, how do you explain the fact that the toilet is made of two porcelain bowls stacked one on top of the other?


  12. To be fair to rat-faced-guy – hey, he was dealing with somebody brought up in the American education system – you know, that system that turned out Great Minds like George W. Bush and Sarah Palin. How should he know you had been secretly doing some extra-home-schooling like Sesame-street?


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