I spent my senior year of high school
working at my local Ace Hardware
after school and on weekends. The job was typial retail
fare except for one particular summer afternoon. For you see, Ace
sold large forty pound bags of fertilizer
, top soil
, and grass seed
to our farming customers in the local agricultural sector
, and these bags were kept outside for easy access. I and one of my fellow high-school-age coworkers, Ron, were sent to take the propane
and drive the palettes (one hundred bags at forty pounds each) around to the front of the store from the storage space in the backyard. Ron was in the cab of the forklift
, a lit cigarette
dangling from his mouth, and I was on the ground directing him around to where he needed to lower the palette. Suddenly Ron leapt out of his seat, rolled onto the ground with a thud, and covered his face with his hands.
"What are you doing?" I shouted.
"My cigarette," he said, terrified, "It fell out of my mouth and into the forklift! It's gonna explode!"
Sure enough, the cigarette
had fallen down on to the gear shift area which was an open space. From there it had dropped into the inner workings of the machine itself. As soon as the burning nicotine stick hit the fuel line, we'd have one of those running-from-the-explosion Die Hard
or Lethal Weapon
scenes on our hands, only without a Hollywood
script to guarantee our safety.
“Whaddowedo?” Ron shouted.
“Turn it off!”
“I’m not going near it! It's gonna blow up!”
That forklift was a ticking time bomb, so there was only one thing to do. I had climb up into the cab and disengage the engine. I had never operated the machine before (that wasn't my job), but how hard could it be to turn one off? I sat down in the seat and turned the key to "off". The key, however, did not want to be turned off and clicked back to "on".
"It won't turn off. Is there a safety latch somewhere?"
"Get out of there; it's gonna explode!"
"Stop saying that! You're six feet away from the forklift, you moron. If it blows up, you're going with it. Now tell me where to find the safety latch."
"Push the key when you turn it," he said, placing more distance between himself and the impending explosion.
I pushed in the key and turned, and lo and behold it shut down. Ron reached under the machine and pulled the cigarette free, then stepped on it repeatedly to put it out. There was no explosion that day, and I never saw Ron smoking at work again. Best of all there was no raging fireball, and that's always a plus in my book.
Part of iceowl's adventure quest
Names changed to protect the moron smoking while using the forklift