I looked out from my office window to the production floor below, hands behind my back. Three men sat in three chairs in front of my desk; Terosa, Gelsing, and Hodgins. I had my back to them, attempting to collect my thoughts before sitting down to write up the incident report involving the three of them. We were a small company but we were the only supplier of preformed sidewalk cracks in the Western provinces. This meant that we were under heavy pressure to fill the demand by cities in order to keep their public work departments busy enough that the municipal governments could increase their infrastructure monies for repairs from the provincial governments in order to siphon the left over monies for junkets for the study of whether or not breast augmentation for their female civil servants could be construed as increasing public morality in the bill collecting department. Work stoppages only added to the pressure, and when the stoppage was created by an accident, the pressure was doubly so as production could not be continued until an investigation had taken place to ensure that all the safety procedures had been in action. As safety coordinator, it was my job to make sure all the “I”’s were dotted and all the “T”’s were crossed.
This was the situation we found ourselves in today; I had informed Occupational Health and Safety who was sending an investigator scheduled to be here in a half an hour. I had only the time before he or she got here to get all the company paperwork in order or face the company being fined for improper procedures of accident filing regulation 44-99-0. I hated rushing things but I steeled myself against my revulsion, turned to the three men and sat down at my desk.
They were quite a sight; Terosa holding a bloody towel to the left side of his head, Gelsing pawing at his left shoulder annoyingly as if he were silently trying to play the wounded soldier card and Hodgins, being well, Hodgins, sitting there with his hands on his lap as he were Mr. Innocent. With the secretary and our general manager out to lunch still I not only had to fill out the incident report but the injury reports as well. I wasn’t too concerned at the moment for the injury report since the majority would have to be filled out by the emergency room doctor and handed in to the OHS and Worker’s Compensation Board later on. Gelsing and Terosa had whined about wanting to go to the emergency room but knowing that the OHS were rather rigid on having the right papers done that their boo boos could be attended to after. Surprisingly the only one of the three that had not been a big baby was Hodgins, which made me wonder what he was playing at – he was never one to pass up the opportunity to goof off on the company dime.
I made sure that I had all the requirements before me: their personal files, copies of their job descriptions, the incident report papers and the safety manual was on the floor beside me. I grabbed three pens from the drawer of my desk, setting two off to the side while I kept the third in my hand and looked at the three of them with my lips pursed. To impress the seriousness of this meeting on the three employees I tapped the tip of the pen on the blank incident report several times.
“As you know,” I started off, “As part of the requirements of the OHS when an accident happens on the production floor we are required to do a preliminary incident report before the investigator gets here in order to facilitate the process of restarting production.” I waited the standard five second rule for indications of understanding.
Terosa and Gelsing nodded though I couldn’t help but notice that Hodgins just sat there smugly with a half grin on his face. The jerk always had such ‘screw the man’ attitude, it was a wonder he had any employment opportunities at all. I wouldn’t have hired him in the first place if I would have known but he had hid it well for the first six months on the job. The past five months though when it was slim pickings for workers his slacker ways began to shine.
Despite Hodgins’s negativity I pressed on and read what I had written so far, minus the time.
“This meeting is in regards to an incident at ‘Break Your Mother’s Back, inc’ on June 23, 2009 at….” I looked at my watch, “One seventeen in the afternoon. Attending is safety coordinator Ronald Richardson, Guido Terosa, lead hand, Terrance Gelsing, labourer and Jason Hodgins, labourer.” I passed the paper for the three to sign under their names. When I got it back I noticed that Hodgins had not signed it but with time being an issue I decided that I’d get him to sign his name at the top when I needed to get him to sign the bottom of the incident report.
I realized that, as with every accident, there were probably going to be three different views to what happened so I decided that I would first ask what happened then once we all agreed on a version, to write that one on as our official incident report for the OHS investigator. I folded my hands on top of the incident report, not to firmly closed so that it projected one of formality yet understanding.
“Let’s get to the bottom of this matter so that we all can improve ourselves in order that something like this ever happens again,” I said with a small reassuring smile and tone. “We have the basics that we all agree on, don’t we? Gelsing, don’t pick at your shoulder – it’s not very hygienic nor pretty to see - At sometime between twelve twenty and twelve forty there was a malfunction of the dual 14” saw press that caused….”
I looked back out the window at the saw line. Standing straight up almost fifteen feet in the air between the actual saw unit and the perform hydraulic press was a monolithic like structure of steel and cement that should have been horizontal and going smoothly through the saw unit. On the other side of the saw were large chunks of broken and twisted eight foot concrete slabs, the protective steel covers partially ripped and bent over to the sides, twenty four in all, littering the rollers that they should have simply nd rolled from the saw unit to the storage area. This was not a scene of productivity and effective usage of space and safety procedures.
“Significant damage to the production line. Does that sound like an accurate description of the current situation on the floor right now?” Two heads nodded; Hodgins didn’t even look he had heard a damn thing I said. Hodgins, I thought to myself, better watch his butt or I’ll be kicking it out the front door pretty quick.
“As a group,” I continued, pulling my hands apart then putting them back together again, “We should come to an agreement on what occurred before the outcome that is currently on the production line.” Terosa put his hand up. I nodded for him to speak.
“Well, I think that…”
I stopped Terosa right there with a raise of my hand.
“No where in your work contract is there any clause that uses the word ‘think’ in your job description. You are not paid to think so you had better not be wasting company time doing something that should be done on your dime, not ours.”
Terosa looked at me, opened his mouth then shut it again. His tongue flicked out of the side of his mouth as his eyes rolled upwards as if he was trying to do what I had just told him that was a violation of his contract – but then he must of decided against pushing me to see whether I give him his second of three warnings before I would have to terminate his position with the company.
The cheeky prick! I once again held up my hand.
“Terosa,” I snarled, “I have made it quite clear what your contract states.”
“Uhm, yes sir?”
“Are you trying to push your luck by saying ‘thought’ – because ‘thought’ is a derivative of ‘think’, which as I have just reminded you is not in your contract.”
Terosa looked at me blankly. I thought I better head off any further defiant behavior from Terosa.
“And don’t you think you can get away with ‘thunk’, ‘reckon’,’mulling’, ‘rationalizing’ or ‘figure’, either,” I warned, “Those connote the same definition of ‘think’ and I will have to write you up for insubordination.” I was about to continue berating Terosa on engaging in non-work related preoccupations during work hours when I saw Gelsing had meekly put his hand half way up.
“What is it, Gelsing? And will you please refrain from scratching your shoulder – it’s quite off putting; this is an official procedure – show some professionalism”.
“Just a question, sir. How is figuring the same as thi…the ‘t word? I would have to opine that if you are ‘figuring’ you are ‘assuming’ which is not really the ‘t’ word but acting on a belief rather than formulating your own course of action.”
I stared harshly at Gelsing for a moment. I scanned the job description that was on top of the three men’s personal files.
“Point taken,” I said then turned my attention back to Terosa. “As Gelsing here pointed out, you can figure or assume on company time as it there is nothing forbidding it in your job description. I am sorry that the description is not as clear as it should be and I will work on clarifying this area up immediately. Now, Terosa, what did you figure?”
“Well, Gelsing and I were trying to disengage the saw blades at the time when the hydraulic press began to push through the second run of the product but since the saw blades were stuck really good…”
“Well,” I corrected.
“well into the preceeding concrete, I figure that Hodgins must have accidentally pushed the ‘process start’ button on the other side of the saw carriage when he was working from the other side to unjam the upper saw casing.”
Hodgin! Why wasn’t I surprised that he would be the instigator?
I looked at Terosa while I bent down to the icebucket that I had underneath the desk and held up the piece of skull with an ear on it.
“And that’s when you lost this?” I asked.
Terosa shook his head.
“Was it before or after,” I bent down and reached a little further to the ice chest and pulled out Gelsing’s left arm from the cold water, “This happened?” Terosa and Gelsing looked at each other.
“I think I lost the arm first and then Terosa there lost the side of his face,” Gelsing responded.
“First off, Terosa did not lose the side of his face,” I commented with a little annoyance in the tone, “Clearly it is still here on the desk so it isn’t lost. Secondly, stop picking at your shoulder – I cauterized the damn thing with the blow torch but if you quit picking at it you’ll pick the burnt flesh off and start bleeding all over my floor.” Gelsing apologized though I noticed that his fingers would not stop playing with the black scorch marks.
“Excuse me, sir, I feel a little woozy, I think I may have lost a lot of blood,” Gelsing said. “Could I just step outside for a moment to get a little air?”I told him no because I knew that he would go out there and would catch him having a cigarette and have to give him a warning about smoking on company property – the OHS was coming, for god’s sake, what did he think they would say if they found a cigarette butt? They’d give the company a large fine and then where would the company be? I let out a heavy sigh.
“Alright, moving along,” I said resignedly, “Who is responsible for the dissecting and halving of the prostitute?” Gelsing spoke up.
“I believe you meant to say quartering, sir.”
I rolled my eyes.
“No, I did not,” I said irritably. “Clearly the prostitute, while she was cut both length-wise and width-wise, the saw blades did not cut fully through her spine to where she would be split into separate pieces but she was firstly more filleted then turned around and cut in half – Gelsing, stop picking at your shoulder.”
“Sorry sir,” Gelsing said, “It’s just a little itchy.”
“Continuing along, who was responsible for the prostitute?” Terosa and Gelsing looked at each other then Terosa spoke up.
“Well, Hodgins figured….”
Hodgins! That son of a bitch! I looked harshly at him but he didn’t even bat an eyelash – the man had no inkling of responsibility running through his body, I thought. He just sat there silently, not attempting to help me understand, just looking at some spot on the wall; I wondered if he even cared about how much trouble his little ‘figuring’ could cause the company. I should have fired him long ago, the man just was inept and irresponsible – I regretted promising his wife that Hodgins would have a place here with the company after she had given me that hand job in the supply closet at last year’s Christmas party. The disgust I felt for Hodgins deafened me to the majority of Terosa’s explanation.
“…and she had said $60 for twenty minutes – Hodgins figured that since we pooled the money it would only be fair that we each should have twenty minutes with her.” He finished with a shrug of his shoulders, “It made sense at the time.”
I leaned back in my chair, putting my hands behind my head.
“Did it occur to you that a) if you were looking to be equitable, you would have to cut the prostitute into thirds instead of attempting four – what were you going to do with the fourth piece? And b) the orifices that are utilized in sexual gratification would have been made unusable since they were severed?”
Gelsing answered; Hodgins, the coward, said nothing.
“Well we figured that it wasn’t very fair since Terosa here is an ass man and so is Hodgins that by doing thirds one of them wouldn’t get what they like so we figured that half an ass was more equitable than no ass. It made sense that even though I’m a boob man it wouldn’t be right if I got the pair when everyone else would only get one.”
“Plus,” Terosa added, “we’re married men, we can look but we can’t actually touch – our wives would have killed us if they found out that we had put our junk in someone else’s scrap yard.”
I leaned forward, putting my hands firmly on the desk as I took in this information.
“So you weren’t actually going to use the prostitute in the manner that she is supposed to be used? Why the hell would you pick up a prostitute in the first place?”
“We only get a half hour for lunch,” Gelsing answered matter of factly.
“Well, the strippers are on a forty five minute rotation so in order to see boobs or ass we’d have to come back here fifteen minutes late.”
I nodded – at least they were thinking about the company’s late policy on lunch, though it did not answer the question why they would bring a prostitute on company property as well as the unauthorized use of company property for personal use. When I pressed the three harder, Terosa admitted that bringing the prostitute back was Hodgins’s plan. I asked in my calmest voice what Hodgins had to say for himself. He just looked back at me with a dull gleam in his eye.
“Hodgins!” I slammed my fists down as I stood up from behind my desk with far more force than I intended, I could see all three men’s shake as the vibration from the desk transferred over to their legs. I went to give my most serious of glares that I usually reserved for those old ladies who paid for their grocery purchases with pennies in the express lane when clearly though the sign stated eight items or less that a carton of eggs was in fact twelve so they shouldn’t have been in that aisle in the first place only to find myself staring at air.
The audacity of that son of a bitch! It was bad enough that the bastard had sat there silently smug the entire time while letting the other two account for their actions, but to try to escape one of my glares was completely unacceptable! Well, Hodgins was about to find out that there was a limit to my reasonableness and he had damn well passed that point!
I marched from my desk to where Hodgins head was rolling towards the office door picked it up and unceremonilessly slammed it back on to Hodgins’s body. I retook my seat, and with pen pointed directly at him I looked him straight in the eye.
“Hodgins, I think I have been more than fair during these proceedings,” I growled menacingly, “And you have done nothing but show disdain! I am trying to do my job the best I can, so while you may think…”
“Figure,” Terosa piped up quickly.
“Thank you…so while you may figure that this is a bunch of hooey, it does serve a purpose. I would appreciate it if you at least had the decency to give me your attention for ten bloody minutes – this is for your benefit, not mine, you know. I have a lot of other things I could be doing.”
Hodgins still said nothing – arrogant son of a bitch, he was. He was a lost cause, I decided that I would simply ignore the bastard for the rest of this meeting and carry on as if he actually had some pride in his job. I pinched the bridge of my nose to attempt to stem the tension headache that was welling.
I looked at the three men and calmly brought up the two thousand page safety manual and put it on the desk in front of me. I tapped its cover.
“If you had read the safety manual,” I said quietly then quickly flipped through the three personal files off to the side to ensure that my information was correct, “which according to your files you signed form 43-G-12 stating that you had read it, you would know the proper use of a prostitute.”
Gelsing furled his brow for a moment then spoke.
“Excuse me sir, but I don’t think that particular subject is covered in the manual.” I sternly stared at Gelsing. Without breaking eye contact I flipped the safety manual to the index and quickly glanced down at the page. To verify what I had seen, or more so, what I had not seen, I used my pointer finger as I silently lip read the “P” section of the index. I flipped to the “H”, then to the “W”. Nowhere, it seemed, was the proper use and storage of a prostitute. It was all very disturbing.
“Hurumph,” I said, locking eyes with Gelsing. “It appears that you are correct that there is no section for prostitutes – obviously this is an oversight on my part and so you can’t be held responsible for something that I had not trained you for.” I made a quick note to rectify this issue before the week’s end.
“I apologize for my lack of comprehensive coverage; it won’t happen again.” God damn these incident reports were a pain in the ass….