Saturday, July 21, 2007

Some times you have to be there....

Everything reminds me of a story, unfortunately, for a lot of those you have to be there to enjoy them. Some of them you can’t enjoy, because you are there. The following would be one of those.

Everyone hates to get a rule named after them, particularly when the rule will cause the rest of your entire industry to suffer. Sort of like Three Mile Island, but this one smelled worse. Not famous, infamous.

As I have stated elsewhere, operators don’t get holidays off. When you want electricity, we have to make it for you. When you get up in the wee hours, and go to the ‘fridge and open the door, and the little light comes on, that means someone like me is at work.

Where I work is a little different, we are required by Federal Law to man the station to predetermined levels in all conditions. I have to be relieved by a similarly qualified person before I can go home. If I don’t get relieved, I may be sleeping in the back office, but I will be here.

The Holiday in question was Thanksgiving, the second most family oriented holiday of the year. The remainder of the station is away stuffing them selves with turkey and fixings, and here we are, making neutrons and megawatts. We were the objects of pity, turkey day and ball games, and we are at work. One of our production assistants, with the best of intentions decided to cook a complete holiday meal for about forty people and deliver it to the plant.

Remember what the road to hell is paved with?

You got it, good intentions, or in this case bad turkey.

Bless her heart, she got up at some ungodly hour and put the birds on, she cooked pies, dressing, yams, beans, rolls, sides of every description. There was enough food to feed a small township of Somali refugees. We all ate like starved wolves. That was at about noon, and then it was back to work. My ex was there and fixed plates for some of the Security officers. The cook fixed a plate for an armed guard that she had an eye for.

I bet that didn’t work out.

I was with another operator hanging Danger tags on equipment, when we got the first hint of trouble. He has a slightly delicate stomach, mine on the other hand will digest anything short of rocks and bolts. That may account for the time delay. As he raised his hand to turn a breaker off, I noticed his hand shaking. I turned to him and his face had gone white and the sweat was popping out all over. (????) He looked at me and said “I can’t wait, I have to go!!!” He ran to the airlock and disappeared. I don’t know how far he ran, but I didn’t see him for several days.

Odd, that was.

The end of shift finally arrived and I started home, probably the longest twelve miles I have ever driven. As I left the parking lot I got the feeling that there would be an “event” when I got home. Boy, Howdy! That short ride got longer and longer. I felt a little gas, and being alone, released it, it had that special rotting corpse fragrance.

This is a special BAD SIGN.

The incidence of gastrointestinal upheavals increased exponentionally, to the point that I was practically standing up clenching for all I was worth. When I finally got to the yard, I could barely walk. Walk, hell, I ran to the house jerked the door open to find the facilities occupied.

Panic Ensued!

People, I lived at the end of the world, down a dirt road, then back in the woods. I could have dropped laundry on the front porch and not been seen, but panicked thinking would only focus on that special place.

I shrieked “HURRY”, and the ex screamed back “I’m trying!”

We rotated possession of the throne for hours. I would be suffering on the throne, and hear the pounding of feet heading my direction. I would relinquish my position as long as I could stand it, then we would change again.

The seat didn’t cool off until after midnight.

I went to work the next morning with the intention of coming home, if there were enough people to cover the roster. I don’t hope to ever see the like again. There were anxious faces everywhere, sweaty and pale. Everyone kept a weather eye on the rest rooms. Every few minutes someone would bolt and if the men’s room was occupied, they would ricochet to the ladies room. Our exhaust fan pulls ten thousand cubic feet of air (or gas) a minute, and the control room still had that nasty sour odor.

The obvious cause was the dinner the day before, only the folks that ate got sick, and everyone that ate was sick. Naturally, everyone who heard it thought it was priceless, and the story went everywhere, including to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

They were NOT amused.

The idea of taking out an entire shift, by eating the same food, almost got a new rule.

For weeks after that some of the humorous types would ask the girl who cooked, “I need a day off can you fix me a turkey sammich?”


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