Monday, August 8, 2011

Never Give An Idiot A Power Tool!

It's evil I tell you... EVIL!!!

As the “Weeds and Seeds” detail dragged on through the spring and into the summer, I wondered if I'd ever be reassigned to my squadron.  To be honest I hoped not, since I'd been given the opportunity to drive some seriously cool equipment.  As I mentioned, in addition to the 5 ton International pick-ups I got to operate a power road roller and build a potion of road, a front end loader plus a grader and now... oh man, this was the ULTIMATE man toy... I was gonna get to operate a pneumatic road hammer!

Hot damn, aint we havin' fun now!!

The idea was that myself, some jailbirds and a couple of flyboys from Civil Engineering were to tear up a portion of the road leading from the main gate, and put in a sidewalk.  Now normally I'd drive the truck and the Civil Engineering guys would do the work, but I seriously wanted to get my hands on that hammer.

“OK, what do I do?”  

“You lean over it, get a real good grip and squeeze the handle.   Whatever you do don't let it get away from you!”

I gave it a try on a piece of road close to the edge.  “BLATTA, BLATTA, BLATTA, BLATTA, BLATTA,...”  It jolted the hell out of me, but I seemed to get the hang of it right away.  My Civil Engineering buddies had to run back to the squadron for some supplies. 

“OK, just follow the chalk line and run it to the end.  We'll be back with some more guys to help bust up the rest of it.”

“OK” I said, relishing the thought of busting up all that concrete.  As soon as they left I pulled myself up to my full, 5'10 stature, and sauntered over to the hammer... jailbirds looking on with intense interest.  I self assuredly picked the thing up and let her rip.


What was it they said about “Whatever you do don't let it get away from you...”?  Not only did it get away from me, but it made a beeline for the center of the road.  Not the nicely laid out chalk line that marked the edge of the proposed sidewalk mind you.  Nope... the CENTER of the road!!


With me hanging on for dear life it took off in an approximate 20 degree tangent...


I finally had the presence of mind to let go of the handle, but the damage had been done.  There was now a 20 degree tear in the concrete angling toward the other side of the road.  By the time I got the damned thing shut off I'd gone off course about 2 feet.  When the crew got back they had heart failure. “Oh my Gawd, what happened??!!   Now what are we gonna do!!??”   We gave it some sober consideration.  The damage had been done, no fixing that.  

"How about we just cut it back in and pave it, maybe they won't notice."

So, with the pros safely back in charge of the hammer that's exactly what we did.   We finished the side walk, and left a 20 degree piece of it jutting out to the road.  We never heard a word from anyone.

Years later, when I was returning to Toronto from Saskatoon, my wife and I took a ride down to Minot.  She wanted to see where I'd gotten in to all this mischief, and there it was... the sidewalk was exactly the way I'd left it.

As far as I know, it remains that way to this day.

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