Sunday, December 07, 2008

There's That Old Man Smell Again!

Sitting comfortably at my desk at work, contemplating my day's activities and minding my own business, I reach into a side drawer and pull out my trusty plastic container of Williams Lectric Shave, Electric Razor Pre-Shave with soothing Green Tea Complex…liquidy stuff.

With semi-sleepy eyes on my computer screen and still minding my own business, I might add, I casually unscrew the black plastic lid and dribble a small puddle of the pleasant smelling pre-shave into the palm of my left hand and then liberally rub it onto my chin and ample jowls and that my friends is when the action starts here in the prairie-dog cubicle office.

"There's that old man smell again!" chirps the witty youngish female Engineer/Intern from the obviously shallow depths of her inexperience in these matters. I blame her response on the fact that I have a small fan on the floor, which blows the pungent (and yes – youthful) aromatic green tea-smelling facial panacea over to her desk behind me. This probably makes it smell like "old people" to her.

Doesn't she realize that as a Chemical Plant operator, it is my duty to be clean-shaven at all times in the event that I have to don a respirator or a self-contained breathing apparatus to possibly rescue her and other less skilled coworkers from imminent disaster? Throwing my head back in an obnoxious silent and self-righteous guffaw I think to myself "I guess not", as she looks like a little kid in comparison to us seasoned veterans and how could she possibly have lived long enough to recognize what should be obvious? Whippersnapper!

Never mind. I ignore her weak humorous attempt at senior citizen verbal abuse and crank up my Norelco Speed-XL triple-head electric razor and start burning off the tonic laden and offensive whiskers from my jawbones. I like to stay on top of the game and no amount of prattle from the ignorant will stop me from getting and staying there. I'm a smooth Operator, so to speak.

About this time, my partner in labor and beloved Crosby, Texas denizen Charles Kelm begins his daily expostulation of all that needs adjusting inside our limited domain. He does this by slapping his hand down hard on his desk and yelling "HEY", which makes the entire office staff jump. He then sits down with no apparent point to be made.

Charles is my friend and I dubbed him a Ronin Engineer when he first made the transition to this section of the Plant. A ronin is a term for a samurai warrior without a master and I say that facetiously, but it fits him well and he has come to enjoy the title. He's a "Mech-E" in a "Chem-E" world. In other words, he's a Mechanical Engineer working as a Chemical Engineer and he has adapted like a true warrior and he performs his duties with determined and vigorous flair.

Numerous times each day he stumps a tirade about some injustice and standing up behind his desk, he will snatch up a dry marker and draw something on the Board on the wall. Try as I might, I have no idea what correlation this drawing has to do with the subject being discussed. He usually ends up with a loud "HEY" and suddenly extends both arms straight up in the air and between this and the "shout", most everyone is startled from their semiconsciousness, as he reseats himself, justified in every way.

Not long ago, he launched into an seemingly cryptic dissertation about the inefficiency of separating clothes into numerous piles and washing multiple small loads, when by utilizing a "superload washing machine"; all the clothes could be washed simultaneously using cold water and only one big load was actually necessary; thus saving time, water, soap and utility costs. "Everything is washed in one load" was his battle cry and he repeated it at least six times, in case we would forget.

Leaping to his feet – chair flying and dry marker open and ready, he began drawing a series of circles and lines, which in his mind explained everything. Honest to goodness, this was simply a general variation of most all of his artwork, but I was ready and had my trusty camera ready to record this particular expression and I did. Opening the photo in Photoshop, I added some text, had it printed on two coffee cups and sent them to his house (one for him and one for his dear patient wife of 34 years) so she can benefit from his wisdom and efficiency and have a daily reminder to boot.

Today, both my Ronin friend and our intern prodigy are on vacation, so I have peace as I smile and spread extra crunchy peanut butter onto my Nature Valley Oats 'N Honey crunchy granola bar.


Anonymous said...

Bert, I just wanted to tell you how very much I enjoy reading your articles in The Baytown Sun. They are funny, inspiring, and just downright good. I don't know you, but admire you very much. As someone who didn't serve in the military because of physical reasons, I really appreciate your military service, as well as others who served. I simply cannot imagine what you all went through.
I am retired from ExxonMobil, where I worked as a lab tech, then went into inspection, which was my background. I really appreciate your comments about work. The comments say that things are the same, no matter where you work. They are very humorous and true. I worked with people just like the ones you describe.
Just want you to know how much I appreciate your taking the time to write the articles. You are a very gifted writer and communicator. I also appreciate your support of our city. I was born here and never left. Thank you very much and have a great Sunday!

"Dandy" Don Cunningham

Ike said...

Coffee Cups for Everyone!

It can only happen while shopping!

As the big man is my witness, every word of this is unquestionable and void of hyperbolic incredibility. With that taken into consid...