Horse Sh…Play

Clown

My life has been built around humor and comedy. I’m a great believer in amusement and entertainment.  I’m all for fun and frivolity.  Want to get into horseplay?  I think you’re a stupid asshole!

Sooner or later, horseplay ends in injury, damage or death, often sooner than later. At least, most times it ends there.  There are people (I’m sad to say they most often have an XY chromosome mix, though not always.) who go beyond asshole on the stupid scale, and continue.  Almost every workplace has a rule against horseplay.  There are good reasons for that.

The young man who formed the vinyl parts on my auto plant line was quiet and well-behaved. Management changed the part we did, and now we required two formers.  The second one we got was an industrial strength asshole.

The line beside us had four young women behind the press. He and one of them immediately started throwing small, hard balls of vinyl at each other.  One day he said to Mr. Niceguy, “Here, toss this at Elaine.”

He did so….just in time for Janet to step around the press, and get hit right in the eye. The guy who had never before thrown anything, got a written reprimand, and we had a lost-time accident after six months injury-free.   BTW, Mr. Asshole continued throwing stuff.

We bonded thin vinyl to foam rubber, then cut pieces out, usually discs, to fit over steering columns, etc. One of the parts had a steel support added, about the size of a cell phone.  Four protruding feet were hammered over like staples.  One jokester came by and found one near the supply crib.  He picked it up, yelled at our installer, and then scaled it toward him like a Frisbee.

It would have landed six feet short, and clanged across the floor.  Spinning in the air, it looked just like a soft rubber knockout, so my guy stepped forward and caught it in his bare hand.  Fortunately there was no blood, but their friendship was strained for several days.

When I worked at the steel warehouse, management had Southern Ontario carved up into six sections. One outside salesman serviced each piece.  The Inside Sales Dept. had one clerk for each of them.  It was a most redundant system in my opinion.  Three or four bodies could have easily handled the volume of calls, but I guess one-on-one ensured familiarity.

It meant that there was often a lot of free time. Two of the clerks were in their early 20s, like me.  One of them was a convicted kidder.  If anyone was away for washroom or coffee break, and there was a call, another clerk took name and number and left a note, for the customer to be called back.

There are two local Universities, one of them Lutheran. A call-back note might get you the recorded ‘Prayer of the Day.’  With the African Lion Safari fifteen miles away, another note might tell you to call a number and ask for ‘Leo.’  The other University had a Performing Arts Department.  They had a dedicated line that you could call to purchase tickets.  When shows were not running, it played recordings of things like ‘Money, Money, Money’ from Cabaret.  All very amusing.  😳

One day, the fall guy returned to his desk and found a note. A Mennonite he’d never dealt with had decided to set up a metal fabrication shop, and wanted to order a significant amount of material.  When he phoned back, he was answered by a Mr. Bierschbach. (Beersh-bock)

Expecting another prank, he heard ‘Beer Box’, a 24-bottle case, so he went along with the joke.  He told the customer that his name was Carling Labatt, the names of two of Canada’s largest breweries.  This wasn’t terribly unreasonable.  At the time, Carling Bassett, a young female member of the brewing clan, was well-known in figure-skating.

The call went on and on, with him nodding and agreeing, and calling the new customer Mr. Beer Box – but not writing a thing down. When the kidder returned, he had a big laugh about his ‘buddy’s fake call.’

After being assured that the call was genuine, and given the man’s name and pronunciation, he then had to call him back and apologise and explain – and write down the entire order. This was not a good introduction for a new client.  If there’d been another, sufficiently-large local warehouse, I’d have gone with them.

It’s all fun until somebody loses an eye – or a customer – or their job. Fun’s fun, but this ain’t it.  Horseplay is for horses’ asses.

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Archonology – The Next Generation

 

A couple of years ago, I wrote of finding an old English bus ticket from 1942, in an old book. If you didn’t read the post, you’ll have to take my word for it because, despite my impressive filing system, I can’t seem to find it.

Like father – like daughter.  Recently, LadyRyl picked up an old hard-cover book at a Thrift Store.  As she was reading it, out popped an old post card.  Anybody remember them??

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Isn’t this darling? And isn’t that pile of concrete impressive?  It has all the architectural magnificence of a Russian tenement.  What a building!  You just know that important stuff happens in there every day.  Stuff like….merchandise marting.  Kind of like the Pentagon of its day.

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Here’s the back, where the more interesting, human-interest stuff shows up. It was mailed on Jan. 9, 1946, from Chicago.  Who wants to be in Hell-frozen-over Chicago in January?  Sent home to Grand Rapids, Michigan – a 185 mile, 3-hour drive these days, but probably most of a day, back before Interstates.

It was sent to ‘Bobby’, but the phrase “be a good girl” says that she was Barbara Jane.  It cost a whole penny for the stamp to mail it.  Back before ZIP-codes were even a gleam in a bureaucrat’s eye, it was addressed to Ward (8) in Grand Rapids.

The aunt and uncle senders were Val & Al – too cute for words. I don’t think Big Al had much to do with this piece of mail.  Aunty says she tried to call Bobby’s father, “but the line was busy.”  The entire family seems well enough off to afford a trip to Chicago, and a telephone when most folks didn’t have them.  I’m amazed that the phone was busy.  Without Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, what could they have had to yak about?

It’s not quite as old as my bus ticket, but it’s further before her birth, than mine was for me.  Like me, Ryl is guarding and preserving this piece of historical ephemera.  It speaks quietly from the past, of a society and lifestyle, a little more gracious and courteous, and far less crowded and frenetic than the ‘modern’ one we endure today.