This One Time, 7

This one time I was at work and it was creepy and pitch black, maybe three hours before sunrise, and it sounds stupid to say it was one time because it was pretty much every frickin’ day of my adult life.

See, sometimes truckers like to drag their rigs down the road when it’s daylight outside, and I can get behind that because it’s a dangerous damn job. Tired drivers, other tired drivers, roving gangs of elk hangin’ out in the damn ditches waiting to run out on you and jack your load like they was frickin’ Robin Hood and his band of merry men…. Dangerous job. I do my job right — and it’s not a complicated job, no matter how often I see one of my guys or girls screw it up — and the worst danger for me is I get home so early I might accidentally get a glimpse of daytime frickin’ television.

As tragic as that might get, it’s not as tragic as one of our diesel jockeys smushin’ some rogue moose or a station wagon full of middle school soccer team or a load of McWhatsits tiping over and poisoning the bears, so, this one time, one of damn near ten thousand times, I’m wrapped up in my snowsuit in the seat of a balky damn forklift that also thinks it’s too cold to be working this morning, and I’m cruising with all due speed through warehouse A carrying pallet B looking to slot it into any likely looking space in zone C of trailer D when the backend of the world tips up and the lift falls over and I spill out.

That’s a big ball of suck. I roll around on the concrete pad in my snowsuit, gloves, boots, and helmet for a bit and, well, all that’s gonna happen to me is I get dizzy. I kinda thunked hard onto a shoulder that never fit in its socket right since high school football, but it behaves today. I look around for the lift, looking for the worst, but it’s still upright and running. Hell, the peas are still on the dinner fork, so to speak. The forklift lights are eyes, staring at me sideways, and the whole things looks at me like it’s asking me why the hell am I down here rolling around on the floor when there’s work to do.

It’s an excellent frickin’ question.

If the load on the fork had been that heavy, it would have tipped the lift when I tried to pick it up. Counter to the opinions of some of my brothers and sisters on the warehouse floor, pallets don’t change weight in transit. If it had slid forward, though, on a bent fork….

I got my ass up and looked things over. The pallet was still snug against the back of the tines, up against the lifting assembly. The forklift was still facing the way I had been driving. I looked the pallet over, and sure enough it had a tilt-record on it — not because it was sensitive to damage from tilt, but for spot-checks. One I had put on myself, because I do it to one in 250 to make sure our boys and girls keep track of which way is up.

There’s some odds. I set a little trap to keep things straight and I only catch myself. Except I look at the record and it’s white. It never tipped the fifteen degrees it takes to make it spill the tiny tube of red dye into whatever little cotton wad is in there. I didn’t end up having to report myself to myself after all.

Then why the hell was I rolling around on the frickin’ ground? How did I spill out of the lift? Should I actually start strapping myself in the way I teach the new girls to do it?

I’m no idiot. I’m old enough to worry about stroke and tumors that screw with your inner ear or whatever bullcrap it is that retires good workers before their time. And as soon as I got the damn trailer loaded and the pallets secured and lifted the goddamn sun into the sky, I went back into the office and I made an appointment. I hate doctors, but I hate maybe dyin’ worse, and for what we pay for premiums to get our copays down to ten bucks, the rep himself would slap me silly if I didn’t get checked out for even a mosquito bite.

But I swear to the Protestant Christian God of your choice but best make it a Lutheran one, that lift tipped up sideways, fell over, and spilled me out like I was a sack of potatoes. Except by the time I stopped rolling and looked around, it retroactively hadn’t.

Man, I love me some CAT scans.


January 7, 2011 · by xalieri · Posted in This One Time  


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