It was a titanium day in the neighbourhood when Mortimer Snert arrived, accompanied by his supervisor, at some random location to perform some unexplainable function for no apparent reason. This had become the norm for Mort, having been transferred to this department after a near fatal brush with a sheet of _ inch plywood. He would follow the supervisor around, and be supervised all day, and accomplish absolutely nothing. This day, though, involved a malfunctioning television cable run on the roof of a school building located in a particularly unsavory part of town. So they thundered up in the company’s Chevrolet S-10 pickup, a shining example of America’s finest engineering efforts towards making cheap trucks. This particular truck was indeed doubly special, having also been on the receiving end of a fallen tree, which had totally destroyed the thing. Having been obtained in a rather non-standard manner, it was not insured, and was subsequently carted out to the local vocational technical school, where a class of high school students proceeded to bend it back into shape. To say that it left there with a few serious mechanical problems could possibly have been the understatement of the century. This, coupled with the fine care that was given by the supervisor, the fact that the back was crammed with every conceivable piece of dangerous equipment and the dashboard was buried in tons of junque made the thing a rolling deathtrap. Mort considered himself lucky to arrive at any particular destination without having been dealt grievous bodily damage. So it was with great relief that he arrived at this particular location. The first order of business here was to inspect the cable run to find out where the malfunction resided. This necessitated going onto the roof of the building, since the supervisor never ran wiring internally, it was just too much trouble. So the roofs of these buildings were laced with all kinds of class 2 wiring, which failed on a regular basis due to exposure to weather, being eaten by squirrels, or any number of unfortunate occurrences. Now going onto the roof involved the use of an OSHA approved aluminum ladder, complete with an OSHA approved bent leg. An aluminum ladder which was inherently electrically conductive, and which, in this case, was almost 2 feet shorter than the lowest point on the roof. Since the supervisor always felt the necessity to prove to Mort just how manly he was, he insisted on going up the too short ladder to inspect the cable run while Mort held the bottom of the ladder in case it happened to dive toward the bent leg. This suited Mort just fine, having barely escaped with his life shortly before, having been attacked by plywood, so he held the ladder as the supervisor made his ascent. Once the supervisor had made it over the edge of the roof, Mort stood quite back, just in case something came sailing over the edge, as the man was in the habit of heaving things off roofs when he was inspecting things. Eventually, the boss poked his head over the edge and shouted to Mort that he needed some specialized piece of equipment that he had somehow, in all of his infinite wisdom, not thought of to bring with him. This would involve a trip back to the warehouse, where all the special things were kept under lock and key. Since the boss was up on the roof, and since it was too much trouble to come back down, it was up to Mort to make the trek to the warehouse to procure the special thinger. It shouldn’t take too long, and the boss would just hang out on the roof until Mort got back and everything would be just oh so groovy. So Mort proceeded to get into the mobile deathtrap and promptly discovered that there were no keys, his supervisor having removed them so the truck would not be stolen while they were 10 feet away. Having knowledge of the history of the truck, Mort grabbed the part where the key stuck into the steering column and gave it a good twist, just on the off chance that it might have somehow not survived the assault of the vo-tech class, and was rewarded by the starter engaging. Driving ever so carefully, Mort made his way to the warehouse, and the special room that held the oh so important piece of equipment. Arriving at his destination, he found the place to be abandoned, except for the shipping/receiving lady and the guy who was in charge of chemicals and things of that nature. Mort made his way into the shipping department with hopes that the lady might just have the special key to the special room so he could retrieve the special thinger. She did, and they proceeded down the hallway to unlock the door. As they turned the corner, they noticed the chemical guy standing on a John Williams* ladder, attempting to heave an air conditioner through a small hole in the wall above his door. Not wanting to have to defy death multiple times in one day, Mort decided to pretend he didn’t see what was happening, and to try and bail out just as fast as he could. So they unlocked the door, and rooted around in the pile of crap that comprised the entire contents of the room, and finally located the special thinger. Mort was exceedingly happy, and was in the process of making a hasty retreat when he heard a splintering wood noise, followed by a loud crash, followed by a thud, followed immediately by every swear word Mort had ever heard, and indeed, some that he hadn’t even thought possible. Deciding that he had better see what happened, he proceeded down the hallway to find the chemical guy leaning up against the wall, staring at the broken chair and the smashed air conditioner. In addition, there was a white thing on the floor, and the guy was waving his hand in the air, and it was a really interesting colour of red. It took a moment for Mort to piece together the sequence of thing, and another minute to determine just exactly what he was being presented with. The chemical guy, in his haste to get the air conditioner installed, had grabbed the first available John Williams ladder and hauled all 300+ pounds of himself and the air conditioner up on the thing. He then reached forward to stuff the air conditioner in the window. This act proceeded to overload the front 2 legs of the chair, sending him lurching forward, and the air conditioner sailing through the window to land on the other side. In an attempt to break his fall, he grabbed onto the door, which conveniently opened out into the hallway, and the momentum that he had obtained due to the failure of the John Williams ladder, his excessive bulk, and the proximity of the door to the frame, all conspired to quite amputate his finger at the first knuckle. It was about this time that Mort realized that the white thing laying in the carpet was the end of this guy’s finger, and the interesting red colour was caused by massive quantities of blood cascading down the guy’s arm. Now would probably be a good time to take the opportunity to explain that Mort had a severe case of Hematophobia, which almost always resulted in the loss of consciousness when presented with blood and guts, both of which, at this time, were present in massive quantities. It might also be prudent to point out that the shipping lady also had this affliction, in fact worse than Mort did, and was already passed out on the floor, having witnessed the same display that Mort had. So Mort was faced with a bit of a crisis, and being the only rational person for quite a distance, pretended that he was indeed not seeing what he was. Taking control of the situation, he ordered the chemical guy to wrap his hand in a cloth and stop the blood, while Mort went down the hall to the ice cube machine. Digging out a massive amount of ice, he presented half of it to the missing finger guy, and used the other half to pack the amputated stub, which he retrieved off the floor. During this time, the chemical guy had lapsed into shock, and was leaning against the wall, staring off into space, clutching a bloodsoaked rag around his hand. Mort took advantage of this lull in action to revive the shipping lady, drag her into her room and have her call the guy’s wife, and the head of maintenance, and whoever else she could think of. He also pulled the S-10 around and loaded the amputee into the passenger side and handed him a rag full of finger and ice cubes. Now Mort was doing a fairly heroic job of not passing out by ignoring what had just happened, and so he started the trip to the emergency with the chemical guy. However, his luck was not destined to continue, as about a block down the street, the chemical guy came to his senses, and proceeded to shout about not being able to believe that he had cut off his finger, all the while shoving the bloody stump repeatedly into Mort’s face. Knowing what the outcome would be if this continued, Mort floored the accelerator and made a mad dash to the emergency, which fortunately for him, was only a few blocks away. Mort was seeing black boxes as he pulled into the drive at the emergency, and managed to extricate himself from the pile of junk that had slid off the dashboard during the ride, and made his way into the emergency doors, followed by the amputee guy. The duty nurse took one look at the pair, and grabbed Mort and threw him into a wheelchair, where he pointed at the chemical guy, muttered he’s the one, and promptly passed out. When he came back around, Mort discovered himself in one of the emergency cubicles, along with the chemical guy, and the doctor on duty, who had just arrived. The doctor looked at both of them, and determining that Mort was by far in the worse shape, asked him what happened. Mort proceeded to explain that the other guy had cut off his finger, and promptly passed out again. The next time he came to, he witnessed the doctor examining the other guy, and taking the stump that was packed in ice, carefully inspecting it, and then unceremoniously dumping it in the trash can. It was at this point that the chemical guy lost it, and proceeded to take the emergency cubicle apart. Now would be a good time to explain the particular physical capacities of the chemical guy. This particular fellow stood about 6 feet tall, and weighed well over 300 pounds, 99% of which was solid muscle. Mort had witnessed the guy unloading a truck one day, which had fully loaded 55 gallon drums of floor wax. The guy wrestled them off the tailgate of the truck, onto the ground, then picked the barrels up and flung them onto the loading dock. To top that off, the guy had an incredibly violent temper, and a very short fuse. The guy could cause some serious damage, and Mort was now enclosed in a confined space with this fellow, the doctor having made a hasty exit when the guy started flinging things around. It was at this point that Mort decided to beat his own pathway out of there while he was still mostly intact, and headed out the door, only to be met by the entire crew of the emergency room, half of which were brandishing large syringes of sedatives. As he made it to the exit doors, he heard in the background a tremendous rowe, complete with crashing metal and shattering glass and yelling. Feeling lucky to have escaped the mayhem, Mort made it across the parking lot to the S-10 and sat in it for about 15 minutes trying to regain his composure. Deciding that he had better check on the shipping lady, he made his way carefully back to the warehouse, almost being run down by an ambulance which was screaming up to the doors that Mort had just exited from a short time ago. The warehouse was still abandoned, and Mort went in to the shipping department, ignoring the broken furniture and especially the blood stain on the carpet. He found the shipping lady sitting at her desk, a ghastly shade of white, and she proceeded to fill him in on the events that had occurred since he had left. First, she had called the guy’s wife, who was every bit as high strung as he was, and hearing the news, she flew into a massive conniption, requiring her own ambulance. The very exact one, Mort would find out later, that almost ran him down at the emergency. Next she had called all the administrators, none of which could be reached, and finally, Mort’s mother, who happened to work at the central office complex. Upon relating the story to his mother, the shipping lady was met with a stunned silence, and she was asked to repeat the story. His mother, knowing full well the extent of his affliction concerning blood and such likes was thoroughly amazed that he had taken the guy to the emergency. Now both were concerned over Mort’s well being, up until he appeared at the warehouse. In the mean time, the supervisor had been on the roof, and in fact, had become quite stranded there, due to the OSHA approved ladder with the bent leg, and a well timed gust of wind, which caused the ladder to take a dive onto the pavement. Now this whole process occurred quite before the advent of cellular telephones (yes, this is an olde story) and the supervisor had no way of obtaining help. It was summer, and no one was home at the school, and he certainly was not about to yell at the neighbours to set the ladder up, being the nice paranoid person that he was, he was firmly convinced that if the neighbours came out, it would be only to rape and murder him and heave his body off the roof. So he picked the lowest point on the roof, one conveniently located above a shrubbery, and proceeded to leap off. Being the graceful person that he was, he managed to quite smash the shrubbery to pieces, and inflict himself with vicious splinters in places that should not have splinters. It was about this time that Mort arrived back from the warehouse, having totally forgotten about the oh so special machine that he had gone to retrieve several hours ago. The supervisor was livid, and no explanation that Mort could give would convince him of the magnitude of events that Mort had just been a part of. The supervisor grabbed the ladder off the parking lot, flung it into the back, brushed off the remaining splinters and got into the truck. Which had no keys. Grabbing the thing where the key goes, he gave it a good twist, and was rewarded with a sprung wrist. Now the guy was beyond being pissed, leaped out of the truck, hauled the keys out of his pocket, jammed them into the switch, started the engine and roared off, leaving a thankful Mort in a cloud of dirt. Mort decided that it might just be in his best interest to walk back to the warehouse, and upon arriving there, promptly called in sick for the next week.
* The John Williams ladder was named after the originator of the process, a man in his late 70’s who, in his haste to unplug clocks in an attempt to save a grand total of 37.5 watts a summer, had been using chairs to stand on to perform this capacity. Having stood on one of questionable integrity, he had subsequently overloaded the front two legs causing their failure and had taken a nose dive to the floor and suffered a heart attack, thereby negating the energy savings from unplugging clocks for at least the next millennium because of the workman’s comp claim.