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Archive for the tag “worker safety”

Woefully Inadequate Preparation


pythagorean theorem

Useless knowledge when you’re about to be cut.

This occurred while I was working as a quality control inspector at a steel coating plant near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I was sitting at my desk filling out paperwork–paperwork that I’m sure was vital to the daily functioning of the plant, and not be interrupted–when the crane operator, Jim, burst into the office.

“We have a problem,” he barked.

Jim tended to have problems more days than not. Urgent problems. Urgent problems of all varieties. (I could tell it was urgent because Jim was using his urgent voice. His urgent voice was similar to his whiny voice, but an octave higher.)

I looked around the office to discover I was the only one there. Crap.

“Houston,” I said to him.


“When you burst into a room to exclaim that you have a problem, you’re supposed to say, ‘Houston, we have a problem.'”

“But we’re not in Houston.”

Note: nobody gets me.

“Never mind. What’s the problem?” I asked with genuinely feigned interest.

“Look at this,” he said as he shoved his phone at me. It was a picture of some temp workers standing outside on a smoke break.

“It’s a picture of some temp workers standing outside on a smoke break.” I said.

“You don’t see the problem?” He was incredulous.

“The threat of emphysema?”

“Look closer.” He shoved the phone at me again.

“Okay. They’re all smoking cigarettes, except for that little guy who seems to be holding…a crack pipe.”

“So you understand the problem now?”

“He’s not sharing with the others?”

“This is serious,” he snapped.

“Selfishness is a serious problem, Jim,” I admonished him.

“I can’t be operating a crane out there with people running around all hopped up on drugs.”

“Do people still use the phrase hopped up?”

“Are you going to do something or not?”

“Where’s Rick?” I asked. “He’s loud and obnoxious and loves to yell at people.”

Rick was the foreman, he was loud and obnoxious and loved to yell at people.

“He called off today,” Jim told me.

Note: It’s so rare that you’re in want of a person who is loud and obnoxious and loves to yell at people, but the one time you are, he’s not around. I once asked the owner why he made Rick the foreman. He told me that Rick was too stupid to do anything useful, but he was good at yelling at people, so he made him the foreman. Just another reason the Pittsburgh steel industry is thriving–in Japan.

My immediate boss was also off that day. This was horrible luck for me since I mainly dealt with readings, measurements, recording data and that type of thing. What I didn’t deal with were problems that could lead to me being stabbed in the side of head.

I approached the person in question. He was a little guy with glasses. He looked like Mr. Peabody if Mr. Peabody were a crackhead and not a cartoon dog. He was sweating profusely and his eyes were darting back and forth.

Mr. Peabody (probably not on crack)

“We won’t be needing you for the rest of the day, so you can go home now,” I told him, hoping that he would just acquiesce and leave.

“Why?” He demanded.

“We just don’t need you.”

He leaned into me, and growled in a slow deep voice, “is it because of the leprechauns?”

I gaped like an idiot.

“It’s the leprechauns isn’t it?” He persisted.

“No. It has nothing to do with the leprechauns.” I spoke slowly. “It’s more that you smoked crack on your break.” I felt at that point, honesty wasn’t going to make the situation any worse.

“Is that what the leprechauns told you?” He screamed. “The leprechauns lie!” Then he produced a razor blade from his pocket and held it to my face.

Evidently honesty could make things much worse.

He then gave me a very strange look and asked in a near whisper, “are you a leprechaun?”

You’re never really prepared for the first time someone asks you if you’re leprechaun. The public schools are woefully inadequate in such preparation. Knowing how to diagram a sentence or use the Pythagorean theorem are useless abilities when you’re about to be cut.

So I said the only thing my agile brain could produce: “I’m not even wearing green.”

Luckily for me (almost leprechaun lucky) Mr. Peabody became so fearful of leprechauns, he left on his own without incident.

But the next time someone asks me if I’m a leprechaun–I’ll be prepared.

My true identity.


Have a Ball of Hair


Today is National Hairball Awareness Day!

Are you as excited about that as I am?

Today is the day we acknowledge our feline friends and their propensity to groom themselves to point hacking up a wet ball of fur on your good shoes (Your cat literally stepped over multiple pairs of old sneakers to deposit her gift on expensive leather.)

I’ve acknowledged hairballs. You are now aware of hairballs. Mission complete.

But today is also World Day for Safety and Health at Work.

You may think this is just a coincidence. You could not possibly be more mistaken.

Note: honestly, you could be more mistaken. If you to say the Earth is flat, or that Mars is populated with tiny little men who look like Marvin the Martian from Bugs Bunny cartoons, or that the moon is made of green cheese, or that Kayne West is really a wonderfully kind and affable guy who is just misunderstood, you would be more mistaken. Like that time I said mimes don’t suck.

Marvin the martian

“Martians don’t suffer from hairballs.”

Hairballs can have an enormous influence on health and safety at work.

Have you ever been near a coworker who suddenly began to hack up a hairball?

There are countless situations when it is dire to have this happen at work.

  • When operating a forklift.
  • When operating a chainsaw.
  • When juggling chainsaws. (This mostly applies to professional jugglers.)
  • When juggling knives. (Professional jugglers and Benihana chefs.)
  • When performing delicate surgery. (Sometimes you have to reattach the fingers of chainsaw jugglers.)
  • During the closing arguments of high profile murder case. (If Marcia Clark hadn’t hacked up that giant hairball on juror #5, O.J. Simpson would have never gotten off.)
  • When jousting for the honor of a fair maiden. (This one hasn’t really been applicable for a few centuries. But back in the day it was a serious matter.)
  • When landing a lunar module.
  • Space travel in general. (What do you think really happened to Apollo 13?)
  • If the coworker hacking up the hairball is standing a little too close to your lunch.

See what I mean?

And that is why today is also Workers Memorial Day.

Did you know that more than one hundred workers gave their lives in the completion of the Hoover Dam? Mostly from hairball incidents.

So take a moment today to stop and consider the countless lives that were lost in the building of the infrastructure of this great nation.

And think about hairballs.

apoollo 13 movie

That liar Tom Hanks and his film of propaganda.

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