This Lesson Really Bites

, , , , , , , , | Working | June 10, 2021

I have submitted a few stories about my father-in-law, including this one. My father-in-law is a pretty smart man, especially when it comes to anything construction, and the company he has worked with for several decades really values him.

This story happened back in the early 1970s when he was much younger and my father-in-law would never dream about doing this now.

He was on a job site near a swamp where an alligator was hanging out. My father-in-law always had pets of all kinds and loved to feed anything that came near him. He would bring extra lunch and raw chicken for this almost two-foot-long alligator. This alligator was the darling of the crew and everyone really loved seeing him.

Also on this job site was a thief. My father-in-law would gladly lend out his expensive tools or even give them away to those who really needed them. Apparently, someone on the job site decided to just break into his truck and take the tools without asking and never returned them. My father-in-law bought a new lock and later came back to the truck to find it broken off and another expensive tool gone. This really ticked him off, so he decided to make sure that thief never did it again.

First, my father-in-law backed his truck up in front of a briar patch — very prickly thorny bushes that you don’t want to get into. Next, he went and found the alligator, put him in the back of his truck along with some chicken, and then closed the door.

It took but two hours before the crew heard yelling and screaming from the parking area. They came running and found a very scared and scratched-up man in the bushes and an angry alligator coming out of the back of the truck. The alligator walked back to the swamp, hissing at the thief along the way. The thief, knowing he got caught and looking quite ashamed of himself, went off to get some bandaids for his scratches. There was never any talk about it, but nothing was ever stolen again from anyone on the site.

The alligator still came up to my father-in-law every day at lunchtime waiting to be fed and eventually brought along some friends. My father-in-law said the hardest part about finishing that job was saying goodbye to his “friends.” Every time he was in the area, even decades later, he would stop by that part of the swamp and feed the alligators there. He would actually sit on the bank next to them and they didn’t react at all. There was one that he swore was his old friend that was eight feet long the last time he saw it.

Related:
This Lesson Really Stings, Part 3
This Lesson Really Stings, Part 2
This Lesson Really Stings

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This Lesson Really Stings, Part 3

, , , , , , | Legal | April 17, 2021

I have submitted a few stories about my father-in-law, including this one. My father-in-law is a pretty smart man, especially when it comes to anything construction, and the company he has worked with for several decades really values him.

My father-in-law is tasked with transporting a rather large piece of construction equipment to another part of the state down an old highway. It has to be loaded on a heavy-duty tractor-trailer; it’s huge, tall, wide, and expensive. My father-in-law prefers traveling late at night where there isn’t as much traffic and there’s a lower chance of ending up in an accident. Because of the size, he is required to contact the state Department of Transit (DOT) and get permission to go down the highway so as to make sure it can safely pass under the bridges on the way. My father-in-law takes time to measure the height and width at least three times.

So, he starts off. About four hours in, around 2:00 am, he comes upon one of the lowest bridges on the route. The bridge has a sign on it saying the height is 13’6″, which is about 6″ higher than the equipment he is hauling. He knows it is going to be a tight fit but feels confident he will make it. You already know what happens. Yep, he crashes right into the bridge. He calls the state police who show up with a DOT inspector, who just happens to be an old friend of my father-in-law.

Inspector: “Man, [Father-In-Law], you did a number on that old bridge. I am awfully sorry, but I am going to have to hit you with a number of fines and this could affect your license.”

Father-In-Law: “No, no, don’t apologize. This is my fault. I screwed up. You gotta do what you gotta do. I just don’t understand it. I measured carefully and I usually don’t mess up like this. Thank God there weren’t any other cars around. There is at least $20,000 in damage to the equipment and I don’t even want to think about the damage to that old bridge.”

As they are inspecting the damage, my father-in-law notices that one of the state troopers almost falls off the side of the road because it is high up. He begins looking up at the bridge and down at the road. He turns to one of the state troopers and asks him if he would mind measuring the height of the bridge from the road.

He does, and it comes out as 12’11”, a whole 7″ shorter than the measurement on the sign and the paperwork the inspector has. My father-in-law points it out. The state police begin measuring all along the road under the bridge. It comes out the same. The inspector is completely confused. My father-in-law calls him over to the edge of the road.

Father-In-Law: “I think I know what happened. Look at the road here and the layers of asphalt.”

The inspector comes over.

Inspector: “Looks like fresh asphalt. Yeah, they just repaved the road, but that doesn’t add 7″ to the road.”

Father-In-Law: “Yeah, but how do they normally pave a road?”

Inspector: “They scrap up the old pavement and…”

He trails off, rolls his eyes, and lets out a cuss word.

State Trooper: “Could y’all let us in on it? What’s the problem?”

Father-In-Law: “The way you are supposed to pave a new road is you tear up the old pavement and then put down the new asphalt. It’s what they do on the interstates, but this is an old highway that’s been here for over seventy years and they tend to not be as thorough.  They just lay down new on old and…”

State Trooper: “…build up the height of the old road.”

Father-In-Law: “Yeah, it’s not uncommon on these backcountry roads and this one has about seventy years’ worth of layers on it. I just have never had an issue before now.”

The inspector and state troopers stated that my father-in-law was not at fault. However, from then on, my father-in-law sent a lead vehicle two hours ahead of him to measure every bridge he had to go under to make doubly sure that it was safe.

Related:
This Lesson Really Stings, Part 2
This Lesson Really Stings


This story is part of our Best Of April 2021 roundup!

Read the next Best Of April 2021 roundup story!

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This Lesson Really Stings, Part 2

, , , , , , | Working | April 2, 2021

I submitted this story about my father-in-law. My father-in-law is a pretty smart man, especially when it comes to anything construction, and the company he has worked with for several decades really values him.

The construction company teams up with another company to do a very big and lucrative highway job. My father-in-law has a lot of experience with repairing big machines, so they send him to the site to work on the big and incredibly expensive machines. 

The mechanic from the other company, for some unknown reason, takes great offense that my father-in-law was put in charge and is just a jerk the whole time; he argues with him every chance he gets, even over things as simple as putting the correct type of oil in the machinery.

My father-in-law gets a call and has to go home for a family emergency. He instructs the mechanic and the helpers from the other company that he is in the middle of changing the oil on a piece of equipment and asks them to finish it.

He gets an urgent call the next day to come in to the job site, which he quickly does. In the office, the owners of the construction company and some big wigs from the other company are arguing, with the other mechanic sitting in the corner with his arms crossed and a smug look on his face. Apparently, the piece of equipment’s engine froze, which resulted in something worth several hundreds of thousands of dollars being worth nothing but scrap. The company blames my father-in-law because he was working on it, and they are demanding that the construction company replace it.

My father-in-law figures out what happened pretty quickly. He tells them he will be right back, and he returns with a box and a scared-looking helper. He dumps out the box of parts onto the table. They are bluish in color, which is what happens to engine parts when they are run without oil. He gives the poor helper an angry look and growls, “Tell them!”

The helper stammers that they restarted the engine without any oil because the other mechanic told them to. At that point, the mechanic in the corner looks scared and starts getting angry looks from his bosses.

Before storming out, my father-in-law yells, “It won’t run without f****** oil, dumba**!”

The outcome was the mechanic lost his job and was blacklisted from several other construction companies as word got around, and the company apologized to my father-in-law and had to pay over $200,000 to replace the equipment.

The owner of the construction company took my father-in-law out for a steak dinner.

Related:
This Lesson Really Stings

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A Sign Of Good Work!

, , , , | Working | January 18, 2021

The city puts a notice sign up on my street announcing that they’ll be doing road work tomorrow, and the street will be closed to all but local traffic from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. I make sure to leave my house by 7:30 am.

Fast forward to 6:00 pm. I’m driving home from work when I see city trucks blocking half the entrance to my street, and approximately ten workers standing around talking. I can see the notice sign peeking out from behind the truck. There aren’t any barriers blocking the street, so I hit my turn signal. One of the workers runs toward my car and motions for me to stop. I stop and roll down my window.

Me: “Yes?”

Worker: “You can’t go down there.”

Me: “I live here. I can show you my ID.”

He shakes his head.

Worker: “You can’t go.”

Me: “Your sign says, ‘Local traffic only.’ I am local traffic. I live about 500 feet away. Literally, right there.”

I point to my house.

Worker: “We’re not done.”

Me: “All I see is a completely unchanged road and ten guys standing around doing nothing.”

Worker: “We’ll be done in about two hours. Come back then.”

Me: Two hours?! Listen, I left my house at 7:30 this morning because your stupid sign said, ‘Local traffic only from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.’ I am local traffic, and my clock says it’s 6:00. Go check your sign. It’s right behind your truck. Conveniently moved out of sight, of course.”

The worker opens his mouth and then closes it.

Me: “Go check. I’ll wait. I’ve got a full tank of gas.” 

I put the car in park and fold my arms. He goes to check the sign, sighs, and comes back. Without a word, he moves aside and waves me through.

Me: “That’s what I thought.”

For those who are curious, there wasn’t another way into the neighborhood — one way in, one way out. The next day, there was a sign up with altered hours of 10:00 am to 7:00 pm, but then they showed up at 8:00 am. Thankfully, I had the day off!

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This Lesson Really Stings

, , , , , , , | Working | December 22, 2020

My father-in-law is a pretty smart man, especially when it comes to anything construction. The company he has worked for for several decades really values him and has offered him numerous promotions but he won’t take them. He prefers running the big equipment and not being responsible for idiots — his words. Unfortunately, every so often they hire some new young supervisor for a job who thinks that, because they have some fancy college education and an expensive shirt and tie, they know more than anyone else.

One day, they are clearing land for a road. My father-in-law is operating a closed cab backhoe. It’s not common to see a closed cab but it essentially surrounds the operator in glass to protect them from brush and such as they are moving through an undeveloped area.

He comes upon a tree that needs to be knocked down and realizes that it is hollow. Looking upward, he sees what looks to be liquid flowing down. My father-in-law knows that means a mighty big beehive. He also knows what will happen if anyone so much as touches that tree. He shuts down the backhoe and climbs out to take a better look to decide the best course of action.

The new supervisor comes stomping over.

Supervisor: *Shouting* “What the f*** do you think you are doing?”

Father-In-Law: “The tree is hollow. You can see up there…”

Supervisor: *Cutting him off* “I don’t give a d***. Get in there and get to it!”

Father-In-Law: “But you don’t understand. If I touch that tree…”

Supervisor: “WHAT DO YOU MEAN, I DON’T UNDERSTAND?! I will have you know that I have far more education than you! Now get your stupid, uneducated a** back in that cab, you old f***, and KNOCK DOWN THAT TREE!”

Big mistake. Now he has ticked my father-in-law off. So, my father-in-law climbs back into the cab and starts up the machine. The supervisor stomps off to a group of big shots, inspectors, and such that are standing nearby, talking about how sometimes you just have to crack the whip on these stupid laborers, and they all chuckle.

With the biggest smile he can muster, my father-in-law begins hitting that tree. And, like an explosion, a solid mass of bees pour out of a hole at the bottom of the tree. They immediately attack the backhoe, but my father-in-law is perfectly safe. At that point, the bees turn their attention to the supervisor and the others standing nearby. It is not pretty. The bees swarm them. But my father-in-law just keeps hitting the tree. With every hit, more bees pour out, even angrier than the last ones.

The supervisor starts screaming for my father-in-law to stop, but being in the enclosed glass cab and with the engine running, there is no way he can hear him. At least, that is his story later on and he sticks to it. My father-in-law does not stop until that tree is knocked down, and hundreds of angry bees chase the supervisor and all the others for about a mile.

After the supervisor and others got out of the hospital, they had a meeting with the company owner — who thought of my father-in-law as a brother — and all the higher-ups. The supervisor, of course, tried to blame my father-in-law. The owner and others who knew my father-in-law well could barely keep a straight face when my father-in-law said, “Well, I am just a stupid, old laborer and was just doing what the highly-educated man told me to do.”

Of course, my father-in-law didn’t get in trouble and there is a happy ending. My father-in-law said that the supervisor became a much more humble man after that, never mistreated any of his employees again, and learned to listen to the more experienced people under him. Every so often, the two of them still treat each other to a beer.

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