Congratulations 'Future Brown Noser' on completing 'Basic Office Safety'.
The new kid with peach fuzz has this certificate hanging on the outside of his cube.
BASIC OFFICE SAFETY.
Does that mean there are intermediate and advanced classes too?
I don't recall taking this course when I joined the ranks.
That's a pity. I could use a few more plaques, certificates and awards to hang on my barren walls and to display on my not so heavily trophied desk. And this one seems like it would be pretty fucking easy to attain.
I can almost hear the instructor.
"Now remember class, be sure to put your protective eyewear on when reloading your staplers. Don't forget that paper has sharp edges. Respect your paper. Keep all food away from keyboards. Look both ways before merging into the hall. Slow walkers keep to the left. Secure your lids on hot and cold beverages when exiting the cafeteria. Don't throw pencils. Do not lick the electrical outlets. Do not run with scissors."
I'm positive I could ace that test.
There was a mandatory safety course included with the training I had before I stepped foot out onto the plant floor, where I spent ten accident prone years not only making a living, but also making a difference.
"Stop, Look, Listen."
That's what they taught us.
I think that might have been that CPR class.
My sister asked me one day, "Millie, do you know how you're going to die?"
"I'm going to be run over by a forklift," I said.
And then I wiped the beer off me that had shot out of her nose and mouth.
Turns out her question was nothing more than a Segway so that she could tell me that she knew how she was going to die. It was going to be in a plane crash and at the time she was booked for a flight to Boston to meet her future in laws. Well, you shouldn't use a question for a Segway. By the way, she did not die on her flight to or from Boston, but in order to calm her nerves she experimented with martinis in the air and her fiancé had to practically carry her off the plane and if memory serves me right, she puked in the bushes. But whatever. They got married anyway.
During my first week at my new position, glamorously titled 'Gutterer', (a person who puts the guts into the mini blind head rails) I landed in the nurse's office with a cut right next to my left eye.
You see, I'd walked into a freshly sawed mini-bind head rail, with my face.
After that little incident any head rail that stuck out from the shelf more than five inches had to be tagged with a red flag.
I don't remember getting any kind of an award for discovering that danger. But that's okay. It's not about the trophies for me. I like to think of how many eyes my action probably has saved over the years.
It was a year later that I accidentally stapled the tip of my middle finger on my right hand in a heavy duty automatic stapler that stapled boxes together at the top of the decorative rod line.
Now this job was super fun, for about five minutes. But no matter how much you were or were not enjoying what you were doing, it didn't matter because every half hour or so you switched positions. When the whistle blew you moved one station to the right.
The cardboard feeder person folded the pre-creased cardboard boxes and stapled the left end of the box and stacked the boxes up for the right end stapler to staple the right end of the box and then set the box onto the moving belt where the next few people dropped in the rods, blocks of Styrofoam, screw packages, finials, instructions and whatever else the order called for. The box continued on it's way and would disappear into the mysterious sealer and then come out the other side sealed shut and labeled. From there the boxes were piled onto skids and then a forklift driver would come bopping along with his Road Runner sounding "Meep, Meep", scoop up the skid of boxes and drive away.
It just so happens that my finger got tangled up with the second automatic stapler. You were to fold the corner into a square and shove it into the stapler which then automatically stapled the cardboard together and apparently anything else that it detected.
Did you know that your bone goes all the way to the end of your middle finger? I found that out the hard way at the doctors office. In all my years to date, that middle finger bone is the only bone that I have ever broken. That's right, the staple went right through my fingernail and my bone. It was a middle finger bone fracture and I was off work for three days with a cute little splint on the finger that I proudly waved good by with to all my friends still working on the line, while standing next to my supervisor with a red face and a red neck. She always got a red face and a red neck when she was pissed off.
Did I receive a plaque for that? No. But that's okay. I am happy just knowing that my action has probably saved thousands of other fingers by now, because after that little incident sensors were installed on the automatic staplers that would not let any more staples go into any more fingers or any more bones. Thank you Millie Noe.
It was during this summer of my factory career that I learned that it was not a good idea to go into the restroom while carrying my razor knife in my back pocket. When I heard that plop, which now would equate to my cell phone landing in the bowl, I didn't realize that I was screwed, other than having to dig it out of there. You see those blades get rusty if you don't have the time to take the knife apart and dry them off. And you don't have time for that when working on the line because you are being relieved by the line reliever so that you can relieve yourself and the next person on the line was waiting to be relieved by the line reliever, so you had to get back on the line and you had to make sure you didn't get hit by a forklift and or throw your coffee into the air because of that "meep, meep," on your way back.
My favorite position on the decorative rod line was at the end loading the skids, because there I didn't have to hold the boxes with my elbows, slowing those suckers down enough to get my parts in them.
Holding moving boxes with one's elbows causes cuts and chafing and not particularly pretty elbows.
The 'Sealer' guy at the end of the rod line once said to me, "Come on Pocahontas, move it."
"Did you just call me Pocahontas?" I said.
"Well, I'm not even Indian."
"Well, I'm not either," he said, "But they call me, Big Chief Thunderbolt."
"Oh really? You think so? That's not what I heard," I said.
"No? What have you heard?"
"I heard that they call you, Scattered Showers. Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha."
And that is why I liked working at the end of the line and loading up the skids.
The next summer I learned that if one is taking birth control pills and one misses one pill it is okay to take two pills the next morning. But if one misses two pills it is not okay to take three pills the next morning.
I was working in the shade department at the time. It was a hot and sticky morning. REALLY HOT AND REALLY STICKY.
The material whipped around and around on the roller of the shade after I'd stapled it there and I stopped it at the correct length. I took my rusty razor knife out of my back pocket and cut the material, picked up the shade and set it on the cart that would head to the next station and then I decided to drag a giant floor fan over to my spot because I wasn't feeling so good. And that is when it hit me. It was while I was trying to move the fan. There was no time. There was no place to go. So, I stuck my head into the scrap material barrel in the middle of the department and barfed my brains out.
Did anyone thank me then?
No. Instead a cute forklift driver drove up, "Meep, Meep," and drove away with the puke barrel, had it crushed in the crusher and then thrown out.
But that's okay.
I like to think that many of the girls staring at me from across the lane on the decorative rod line learned from my heroic example to either take their Pill on a regular schedule, or to find another form of birth control. I am probably responsible for saving at least a few unwanted pregnancies.
Things were pretty calm after that little barfing incident and they reamained that way for a couple of years.
But then I landed on the Slitter.
Really? Millie and Slitter? That just doesn't sound good.
I was on one end of a very heavy cylinder that we'd placed in the middle of a large roll of fabric. We were loading this cylinder and material up on the rack to be slit into rolls of material for vertical blinds. We had the roll in the harness and my friend had the remote control in her hand to bring it up as we guided it into the rack. I guess the harness wasn't exactly, perfectly in the middle of the roll and it started to tip slightly and then faster than I could scream "AHHHHHHHHHH!"(which I did) it came shooting out of the harness, hitting my friend in her boob and knocking her to the ground. A forklift slammed on his brakes and although everyone lived and she with a purple boob for quite awhile, it scared the beJesus out of all of us.
Again, no trophy. Instead we had to spend the afternoon filling out accident reports and she had to let the creepy guy who worked in the tool room examine her boob because he worked as an EMT or something.
But what a valuable lesson.
Always respect the Slitter.
Unfortunately the one person who missed that little lesson was Millie Noe.
It's just that boredom can easily set in and a person can easily be distracted. So, as I stood at the front of the Slitter waiting for it to stop slitting the rolls of fabric so that we could tape them down, stamp and date them, box them and pile the boxes onto skids to be taken away, I got antsy.
As I stared catatonically at the rolls in front of me, I couldn't help but notice a loose piece of thread on the big rollers that our slit material was rolling above. Every time it came around which was every few seconds, I would try to grab it. And finally I GOT IT!!
And that is when I got rolled up into the Slitter. Luckily my friend with the purple boob, hit the red button and turned it off, but my arm was in all the way to my neck. We got me out of there but then I had to see the nurse and fill out another accident report.
Did anybody thank me that day?
No. I was told that I was lucky that I had a skinny arm or it would have been broken and then I got written up for goofing around.
But that's okay.
After that little incident an in-fared light was installed on the Slitter that would automatically shut the machine off if anything crossed a line while it was running.
I can only imagine how many lives have been saved because of my little faux pas.
Well, after ten years in the plant I felt as though my work was done and I made my way into the office where I have been ever since.
There was no Basic Office Safety Class for future Brown Nosers then.
And guess how many office accidents I've been in.
You don't know?
Well I will tell you then.