There I was, traveling from lunch back to work in my father’s Toyota Supra because my Nissan 300ZX was in shop getting its transmission worked on. As I turned the familiar corner into the plant’s driveway, I noticed one of the company’s forklifts was in the right hand side of the concrete path. Knowing that they travel much slower than cars, I decelerated to match its speed. I figured it would just take an extra minute or two to get to the plant proper. Then it hit me, that forklift was not traveling down the right side of the road; it was coming up the road towards me !
Perplexed, I glanced over at the address portion of the plant’s entrance sign to determine my location: Alabama. I quickly used my immense knowledge of geography to ensure that Alabama was indeed in the United States and not the United Kingdom. Now, with my confidence newly renewed that I was on the correct side of the road, I turned my attention back towards the conundrum at hand.
The portion of my brain that stores my physics knowledge reminded me of the importance of momentum. I then applied the brakes and gave a quick beep of the horn. The klaxon of warning cried true, yet the forklift pondered on. The bright red of the Toyota stood a stark contrast to the off-white, cream of the concrete, but the forklift continued drawing nigh.
The urgency of the situation grew as the forklift lumbered closer. I again turned to the car’s horn in hope of awakening the operator to the impending doom.
Then it hit me, Diet Dr Pepper really does taste more like regular Dr Pepper. A warm glow filled my inner being. After coming to that realization, I knew nothing else really mattered. Actually, that changed nothing at all. That forklift was the matter to my anti-matter and we really did not need to come in contact with each other. My hand had not left the center of the steering wheel.
Then it hit me. No, not a recognition of my surrounding environment, nor a deep, philosophical epiphany, this time, it was the forklift. I turned off the ignition and emerged, bewildered from my father’s car. I peered around the corner to gaze at the damage that had been incurred. Though I had feared a crater to have been created, my physics intuition held true and it appeared the only thing to have been damaged was the paint and some plastic. All that time seemed to pass by so slowly, but all of the events happened within the span of five seconds. Perhaps this had something to do with the space-time continuum and time dilation, but Geordi LaForge was not around to offer any technobabble advice.
As I pondered what course of action to take, the man in the car behind me pulled up, rolled down his window and announced he was going to get the plant’s safety coordinator. So, I stood there, forced into making meaningless, idle chit-chat with the man responsible for putting me into this situation while waiting for news from above. It was during this time that he related to me that he could not see me over his load and could not hear me due to the hearing protection he was wearing. No mention was made of the matter concerning who was on the proper side of the road. I listened carefully, but the man had no trace of a British accent.
Eventually, a truck pulled up and out came the safety coordinator along with the operations engineer. They immediately began climbing upon the forklift, trying to get into the driver’s vantage point and discussing how to avoid this in the future and whether this could be a job for *insert dramatic pause* The Safety Committee!. No mention was made whether the two people involved in the incident could be a job for *insert slightly less dramatic pause* The Paramedics!. Even though it was not, it would have been nice if they had asked.
As the safety coordinator began taking pictures of the scene with his digital camera, I had a feeling the whole thing was drawing to a close. However, I was vastly mistaken. Even before the last flash from the bulb dimmed, he stated “I should go check with the plant manager. Leave everything like it is and stay here.” Again I was left to deal with awkward conversation and rubberneckers, one of whom stopped and inquired if we were out of gas.
The minutes rolled by slowly. The chill breeze seemed to be freezing time itself. More of that relativity stuff came to mind. I seemed to catch a glimpse of E=mc^2 floating by and heard the faint laughter of a crazy-haired old man.
Finally, he returned sans the plant manager but avec news that I neither wanted to hear nor believe. He had spent the time perusing the union contract to determine what the proper course of action was to be….a drug test for all parties involved. That’s right, because I was hit while stopped on the proper side of the road, honking my horn, I had to take a drug test. So, we loaded up the truck and moved out, though not to Beverly, to the doctor’s office. The total time elapsed so far was one hour and fifteen minutes.
I find it ironic that the truck we drove down to the doctor’s office to take a drug test to determine if we were taking any illegal substances and were therefore unfit to work in a plant environment, lacked the necessary number of seatbelts required to fit all three of us.
Upon arrival, we filled out the required forms and waiting for a nurse to become available. One hour and twenty minutes later, I heard my name being called and soon after, the forklift driver’s name. Thankfully, neither of us were terrified during the actual encounter and did not unleash our respective bladders in fright. We were able to complete the test briefly.
The union contract also states that any person required to take a drug test will not be allowed to return to work until the results are determined, but will receive regular pay during this period. So now I sit idle at home, writing this node, not knowing when I will return to work, all because I was coming back on time in the right lane.