It was last Thursday, lunchtime and I was sitting at the picnic table in the yard at work. The yard where I work is not like your yard at home. It has no lawn or gardens. The yard where I work is surrounded by 10 foot high chain link fence, topped with coils of razor wire. It is all paved asphalt except where the picnic table is situated. The picnic table sits on a concrete slab about 8 x 8. That slab is surrounded by the asphalt that makes up the rest of the yard. We use the yard to store scrap metal: iron, steel, aluminum and the like until we have enough to warrant a trip to the recyclers. The yard is not a particularly nice place to have lunch but some days it is better than the break room. I was just finishing up my peanut butter and bologna sandwich when Solly limped out to the table and sat across from me.
“Hey Solly,” I said, “I haven’t seen you around the shop for a while. Where ya been?”
“I was in the hospital for a couple of days,” he said, “then I was at home for a couple more. I had to heal up enough to sit down again before I could come back to work. Good thing for me I spend most of the day on my feet and not at a desk.”
“Sounds pretty serious Solly. What happened?”
“I bought that dirt bike off Craig’s List that I’ve been looking at. That’s what happened.”
“Sorry, Solly, I don’t understand how that would put you in the hospital unless you had an accident out riding.”
“All right let me lay it out for you. The bike is a classic 1972 Bultaco.”
“Let me tell the story, will ya? I got it home and was showing it to some of the guys on the back porch at the house. Long story short, I kicked it over and when the engine started I accidentally dumped the clutch. The bike took off, threw me down and went through the back screen door, hit the wall in the living room and fell over. It was a mess man. My leg got cut pretty bad and my wife took me to the emergency room. They stitched me up and sent me home.
“Anyway, when I got home there was gasoline all over the carpet in the living room and I soaked up what I could with toilet paper and paper towels. I put the paper towels in the trash but I figured it would be best to just flush the TP, ya know? So that’s what I did.
“It had been one of those days already and it wasn’t even lunch time. I wanted to cry. My new bike was all effed up and so was my carpet. My screen door was broken, I’m still going to have to fix the drywall in the living room, and my wife was mad. My buddies were laughing at me so I needed some time to myself, ya know?”
I nodded my head to keep him talking. It sounded pretty bad but a trip to the emergency room and an angry wife is not the same as a couple of days in the hospital. I wanted to hear more.
“I went into the bathroom and sat on the can. It’s the only place I knew where no one would bother me. The only thing to read in there was one of Marie’s ‘Better Homes and Gardens’ magazines. I grabbed it and lit a cigarette. When I tossed the match between my legs into the bowl, the toilet exploded. The only thing I can figure is that there were gas fumes trapped in there from the TP I had used to clean the carpet.
“Marie came running and when she stopped laughing she called 911. The ambulance took me back to the hospital and I spent the next two days lying on my stomach. It took that doctor two hours to get all the porcelain shards out of my butt and there were some pretty serious burns too.”
I had been smiling for a while but at this point I couldn’t hold it back any more. I burst out laughing. “Sorry Solly,” I gasped, “but ya gotta admit…”
He smiled, “Yeah, go ahead and laugh – it’s kinda funny now but it wasn’t very funny last Saturday.”