Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Waterslide

As a writer, I consider
myself a champion of
good communication. So,
things like this shouldn't
happen to me...
I work as a Consumer Safety Inspector with the USDA. My job is to monitor food processing plants to make sure that they are in compliance with all of the federal food safety regulations. Several years ago, I was stationed at a large beef slaughter and fabrication plant that slaughtered around 4,500 cattle each day.

One day near the end of my shift, my supervisor asked me if I had been on the “slaughter side” recently, meaning that part of the plant where they slaughtered the cattle as opposed to the part of the plant where they cut up and processed the meat. I totally misheard him and thought he asked me if I had been on the “water slide.”  I said, “Since when do we have one of those?”

He stared at me like I had just spoken to him in Klingon. “Since the day they started business,” he retorted.

“Well I’ve never seen it,” I responded, equally confused. I think he might have thought that I was joking with him.

“Seriously,” he replied, “have you been over there recently?”

“Honestly,” I answered with all of the sincerity I could muster, “I don’t even know where it is!”

My supervisor was a rather matter-of-fact, right to the point kind of guy who didn’t have much of a sense of humor even on his best day; and this wasn’t one of his best days. He was getting a little upset with me by now. “Then how in the hell do you do your job?”

I couldn’t understand why he was getting angry. I wondered if he had been drinking on the job. “Just tell me where it is and I’ll go check it out.” I tried to ease the tension by being conciliatory. It didn’t work. His face turned a purplish-red color, and I could see the big vein in the middle of his forehead start to throb.

“What the hell is wrong with you, Ritt? It’s in the same place it’s always been. Go down the hallway, past the break room, down the stairs. You’ll find a big room with a lot of dead cows hanging on a chain!!”

About that time I realized what had happened and I had a good laugh over our miscommunication. But my supervisor stomped off into his office, cussing, and slammed the door shut behind him. I heard him rummaging through the file cabinets, looking for aspirin, which just confirmed my suspicions about the drinking.

I got my hearing checked the next day.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

A Conversation From This Morning - (Or Why My Wife Is Afraid To Leave Me Alone)

In a few days, my redheaded sweetheart, Tami, will be leaving on a weeklong trip to visit her mother and sister. So this morning I asked her, “Do I have to do the dishes while you are gone?”

My redhead has this medical condition that presents itself as follows: I will make a comment about something, and then all of a sudden, she will heave a big sigh and role her eyes into the back of her head as though I had said something stupid. It’s one of those rare medical conditions that can only be eased through the consumption of vodka (or so she says.) She started having one of her fits now (poor thing). She stared at me like I had a third eye, and slowly replied, “Yesssss.”

I sighed, trying to remember where she keeps the paper plates.

“Alright, but you’re going to feed the dog before you leave, right? I won’t have to worry about doing that while you’re gone.”

“NOOOO,” she shouted. She always gets loud when she has one of her fits. “You need to feed the dog EVERY DAY; one cup in the morning and one cup at night.”

Stroking my chin whiskers, I assumed a posture of deep concentration as a thought occurred to me.

She stared at me with a puzzled look on her face. “Are you thinking?” she asked.

“I do it sometimes.”

Shaking her finger at me, she said, “We better still have a dog when I get back from my trip.”

“Don’t worry about it,” I assured her, “I’ll feed the dog.” I decided not to tell her that her method of twice-a-day feedings was inefficient and sounded like a lot of work. My plan is to open up the bucket of dog food and put it in the middle of the kitchen floor so that the dog can just help himself whenever he is hungry. I figure a bucket should last about a week. And if I leave the seat of the toilet up, I won’t have to water him all week either. Just think of all of the time that will be freed up for me to do more important things. After all, the TV isn’t going to watch itself.

“Okay, what about the bed?”

“What do you mean?” she asked.

“Do I have to make the bed while you’re gone?”

I saw her eyes start to roll back into her head again. Then she started frantically opening the doors to the kitchen cabinets, looking for something.

"We're all out of vodka,” I said. You drank the last of it last night when I dropped my phone into the toilet and got my hand stuck trying to get it out.”

Although her back was to me, I could tell that she was starting to sob. I was really touched. I had no idea that she was going to miss me so much.

Finally she turned and, wiping the tears from her eyes, said, “As long as the bed is made when I get back home, I don’t care what you do to it while I’m gone.”

“I promise that when you return, the bed will be made just as good as you always make it,” I said. And I meant it too, because I was planning to sleep on the recliner all week so the bed wouldn’t get messed up.

It has been quite a while since my redheaded sweetheart has spent any time with her mother and sister. I just don’t understand why she doesn’t visit them more often.