In retrospect, the boss likely realized that hiring his son to work in the wood yard was not only a very bad idea but it was also a very dangerous thing to do. The wood yard was where log trucks dropped of their loads of pine and hardwood so the trees could be loaded on an enormous steel rack to be cut into lengths by an equally large saw. The saw was six feet in diameter and had hundreds of very large teeth that were attached, not fixed. Every once in a while a saw tooth would disengage and go flying. It was like working in a place where someone randomly fired a fifty caliber rifle every two weeks.
I held the lowest position and therefore the most dangerous position in the yard. When the boss’s son was hired, he was hired to be even lower than that, so he might appreciate the chances he had to have a better life. The plan backfired because the young man, all sixteen years of him, had never really been out of the house and the idea of working in a place where steel flew and trees rolled off the rack excited him for all the wrong reasons.
Worse yet, he inadvertently ratted us out about things we had been getting away with forever. We were supposed to come in early on Fridays and get off early on Fridays but instead we just got off early on Fridays. The new kid went home and told daddy he was always the first one there on Fridays. He didn’t mean to reveal our stealing of an hour every week but it just came up in conversation. Really, he did mean well but he really had to go. There was moonshine being sold by one of the guys who had worked there for many years, and mostly everyone knew it. But to have a set of loose lips out there… no, he had to go.
The new kid came in one day and we told him we were taking a day off from work. We had a beer keg set up on some pallets and I was drinking whiskey straight out of the bottle. Two of the guys had already passed out from drinking and another could barely stand. We told him he could have the rest of the day off, just go on back home, and we’d get back to work the next day.
Of course, he went home and told on us, as well he should have. The boss comes up with a deputy behind him and discovers that everyone is on the job, bright and sober. Everyone was given a breath test and everyone passed. The boss scratched his head and cursed under his breath. What was wrong with that boy?
The whiskey I was drinking was just ice tea and the keg was an old one used to prop on the card table in the break room. The two guys who were passed out were faking it. When the kid came back we shook our heads and told him we took “Drinking Day” seriously, and were really disappointed in him. After all, we told him, didn’t he know a person could become instantly sober by a cup of coffee with a tablespoon of castor oil? The young man considered this. Clearly we were now all sober. There was a bottle of castor oil by the coffee machine. We told him to wait until after work, knock back a couple of beers, and then try it. He was fascinated by this. He had just started experimenting with illicit drinking and the idea of being able to go from drunk to sober in a few moments appealed to him no end.
After work, I slipped him a six pack and a to go cup of coffee, no wait, just take the whole bottle of castor oil with you, just in case.
We never saw him again, but Monday morning the boss showed up and he was pissed. He had this wild ass story about somebody, and he glared at me, giving his son beer. Of course, he didn’t really believe that story after the first one, but the lad had also knocked down some pretty strong coffee and some castor oil trying to get sober. The results were he didn’t quite make it to the bathroom before the interesting effects of castor oil and strong coffee kicked in. They would have to replace the carpet in his bedroom.
Mike writes regularly at his site: The Hickory Head Hermit
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