Tag: Wally

The reckless record player story

We had some new windows installed in the warehouse. They’re really nice. The company that did them did a great job. They’re bright and shiny and clean. We’re thinking about installing a glass ceiling just because they’re so good.

It was expensive, though. Windows aren’t normally something that you want to be spending money on, especially in November. You have enough on your plate right now with holiday celebrations. There’s laundry to do. There’s a closet that you’ve needed to clean out for three years. And there’s a door upstairs that you’ve never even opened. You’d expect your windows, of all things, to be the one thing that you don’t have to worry about right now.

But no. There’s a problem that needs fixing. Windows. And you need to spend your whole day-off standing by idly as the problem’s taken care of. And you know you don’t need to be there while the people are fixing your windows because they’ve done it hundreds of times before and you have not, but walking away from service providers while they’re in your house is like choosing to sit down and watch TV while the police are out hunting down the guy who stole your wallet. You can’t do anything about it right now, but gosh-darn-it, at the very least look like you’re interested!

Sorry. There’s a lot of built-up anxiety around deadlines during this time of year. I need to relax. Maybe I should clean out the refrigerator.

Now a new shipment of old record players was delivered last Friday. Wally had seen someone’s advertisement for them online, saying that he bought them for practically free and didn’t want them, so he was selling them for dirt cheap, like new, must go.

Wally jumped on the sale and the fifty units arrived in a truck on that very evening. It was snowing. Since Wally is always willing to get into the Christmas mood early, he grabbed his collection of old Yuletide records the next morning and had one playing on one of our new players in every corner of the building. It was a magical day – almost everyone wanted to disappear.

Before too long, though, we noticed something odd. One of the record players had become quiet. I headed over to investigate, and I found that Wally’s copy of “Irish Christmas Lullabies for Violin” was missing. Not only that, but a nearby window was broken. Did somebody just break in?

I quickly ran to the next nearest record player. It was still spinning along, having played “The Twelve Days of Christmas” for a week now. I looked out the window to see if anyone was nearby.

Then, on starting the twelfth day, the song started speeding up. I looked over and saw it rotating faster and faster. I stepped back, afraid that it might explode. As soon as it reached the end of the song, “…And a partridge in a pear tree!” the needle lifted and the record launched from the player, right past my head, shattering through the window and out into the yard.

Let me tell you, it scared the living daylights out of me (which was a shame since I’d been saving up).

As the story would have it, those record players were Schreft & Dewd Classic Turntables, which were actually discontinued six months after they were first produced in 1971. A quick intra-web search revealed that the company marketed them as the “finyl player you’ll ever buy!” Without any exceptions, they were probably right.

Wally called his seller, whose online handle is “Mr.(_)*_*(_)Muffs,” and told him about the problem:

WALLY.  So, there’s an issue that I had with your turntables that you sold me. Did… did you know that they are projectile weapons?

MUFFS.  Huh?

W.  They launch records like Frisbees. At baseball pitching speeds. It’s very scary and we’ve broken windows already.

M.  Frisbees?

W.  Yes, Frisbees!… Records thrown like Frisbees!

M.  Well why are you doing that?

W.  Those record players that you sold us are doing that! They’re very dangerous!

M.  Yes, that is very dangerous.

W.  Where did you purchase them?

M.  Huh?

W.  Where are they from?

M.  Why, you can get Frisbees from the dollar store!

W.  No, where did you get the record players from?

M.  Oh, uh, uh… I bought them up when the company was going down. I knew the owner, and he told me I could get them for cheap, and so I bought them all up and have been trying to sell them off for all those years since to turn a bit of a profit.

W.  Well they’re not good.

M.  They’re not cooked?

W.  No, I said they’re not good!

M.  So they are cooked? What were you throwing them around like Frisbees for?

W.  Sir, I think you are going deaf. All I want is a refund.

M.  Well, thank you for talking with me, but you’re right, I really do need to go get Jeff, and I want you to have fun, to.

W.  No, sir, I said–

–But the man on the phone had hung up. I knew he was putting on a show, just dodging responsibility for his mistakes. How? you might ask. Our shipment was 29 count. And the record players only go up to 70 decibels. Think about it.

And including the replacement of those windows, those record players were easily the worst $55.13 that Wally has ever spent, in terms of ROI.

Darn cold

Darn cold

The air conditioning is broken. It won’t shut off.

It’s like a box at the top of the wall right next to Wally’s office. In the evening we shut it off with a remote controller, but the batteries in it died and we didn’t have anymore, so Barndale and I decided to grab a ladder, climb up there, and shut it off manually.

I held the ladder as Barndale went up. “What button do I even press?” he asked me.

“I have no idea,” I said, having no idea.

“I don’t even know which one to press,” he added in distress.

“The power button.”

“I don’t even know what even that one is!”

He pressed a sequence of three or four buttons in rapid, aggressive succession, but the air system didn’t sound any different.

He pressed another button, and a loud beep! rang out. My hands clamped onto my ears, and I stumbled to my knees in pain, head still ringing. Barndale fell to the warehouse floor.

The fans started blowing harder and harder, the whirring louder and louder. Wally walked out of his office to find out what was going on, and on seeing us on the ground he asked if we were okay.

“Air!” I shouted to him, and he seemed to pick up what I was suggesting. He opened the big door. Then he came over, picked me up–I fought him, but my head hurt too much to stop him–and carried me out into the chilly October breeze and onto the warehouse’s rough front lawn.

“What are you doing?” I cried as he dropped me.

“You need air! Air! You said you need air!”

“No, the air conditioning is broken!”


“The air conditioning! I think it’s broken!”

“I better call the fire department!” he shouted, and then ran back inside.

Within a matter of minutes the fire truck came, and three big firemen* stepped out.

“How may we assist you?” the first one asked.

Wally ran up to him in fear. “Our air conditioning is going crazy! I don’t know what to do. Our utility bill is going to go through the roof–that is, if somebody doesn’t do something about all of our heat, a la the laws of thermodynamics and whatever.”

“Air conditioning you say?” he replied. “I’m afraid we strictly specialize in fires. If you have trouble with heating and cooling, however, I can’t recommend Aunty VAC’s enough. They’re located on West Denali Street just past the polo club.”

“Denali St.? Got it! Thank you for your help.”

“Is there anything else we can do to make your stay more comfortable?” he asked.

“What? No. Thank you, no.”


The three firemen jumped back into their truck and drove away.

Wally drove off to check out their recommendation. He returned with the Aunty VAC’s service van. He lead the lady over to the AC unit to assess the problem.

I sort of stopped paying attention while it was getting fixed. What I got out of it, though, was that Barndale pushed one of the buttons too hard and broke the panel, and something got moved inside that made the thermostat think the temperature was too high. After the repairs, we were assessed $130 in fees. The lady asked us to sign a petition against forced disease prevention services and then left.

In the late evening as the sun died down, however, we noticed that it was only getting colder. The fans weren’t blowing any longer, but we couldn’t stand it any longer, so I grabbed a big space heater from the supply closet and turned it on.

Only too little too late did I remember an old science lesson from school–that cold air is drier than warm air. I must have set up the heater in the wrong spot, because before we knew it there was an actual fire. The fire department came back again, and Wally felt the need to explain himself to the same group of three who had shown up earlier. Finally, after he was done talking, they put out the fire.

I learned several things today:

1. Don’t play around with air conditioning. Just because it has buttons on it doesn’t mean you have to press them all.

2. Don’t be afraid to call the fire department for help. They’re actually quite friendly.

3. You will never use what you learned in middle school again for the rest of your life. And you’ll suffer for it.

And I suppose I could add a fourth:

4. Never trust Wally in an emergency.


*I apologize for the use of non-inclusive terminology used here. I should not have needlessly specified that the firemen were big.

The bad cheese story

Some time between Monday night and this morning, someone dropped off several thousand pounds of Swiss cheese at our door.

We did not want to sell it. It had already half-melted in the morning’s warmth and began to smell rather bad. Transitioning it to a place inside, so that we could get the forklift in and out, took a fair struggle that required all-hands-on-deck and an early vegan lunch.

Wally went into his little office and reviewed last-night’s security footage. After twenty minutes emerged, we got the news:

“Someone was definitely here last night,” he informed us.

We all pretended to be shocked.

“It was a big, burnt-reddish van that stopped by at 4:15 in the morning. Two guys jumped out and unloaded the Swiss faster than a flapjack on the 4th of July. It was actually pretty cool watching how fast they moved. I was impressed. Angered, but impressed.”

“Did you catch a company name on the van?” I asked.

“Oh, you know what? That’s a pretty good idea. I guess I should’ve been looking for that, but there’s just a lot on my mind right now with the holiday and all. I’ll check it out.”

He did that, and we opened some windows. We packed some orders that had come in yesterday, but everyone was left anxious by the cheese’s presence.

I tapped on Wally’s office door. He opened up with a note in his hand. “Deer Dairy–they’re the ones who gave us the cheese.”

“What took so long?” I asked, again the one to question authority.

“Huh? I fell asleep. You know, anxiety. Anyway, they’re just down the road, so I’m going to put in a call and see if I can’t figure out what happened last night.”

Unsure if we had the integrity to wait out another elongated period by standing around without getting anything done, Fouvre and I decided to play a round of horseshoes with some spare croquet wickets we had found in a bin for assorted sports equipment. The game ended promptly, though, when the notoriously square BARNDALE Junior asked us what we were doing.

Without any orders coming in or going out, thanks to management’s preoccupation, we began growing indignant, throwing fits, catching drifts, and just being all-around blunderpuffs.

Wondering why Wally’s next task was taking longer than the first, I flipped out my phone and dialed up his office line. After three rings, Wally finally picked up his end of the call and answered:

“This is Wally Walid Washington. How can I help you?”

“Hey, Wally, um… we’re all wondering what’s going on.”

It took five seconds for him to burst out of his room and say, “Oh–Great Scott–I’m sorry. I guess I must’ve drunk something I shouldn’t have. Anyway, uh, they confirmed that they did drop off–this is Deer Dairy–that they dropped off cheese here and that they thought we were Futuristic Coney Island.”

“We don’t look anything Futuristic,” Barndale shouted. “At least we throw our trash out!.”

“I said those exact words,” Wally laughed. “They apologized and said they’d take the cheese back for its proper disposal. I didn’t even know that that was a concern for cheese.”

“Oh, yes,” I said, “cheese is very concerned about apologies.”

However, one hour later, as the cheese was still sitting on our floor and causing irritation, we received a call from the dairy saying that they were done, but our previous estimate of several thousand pounds was way too high.

It became clear what they meant when the suited-up MR. MADGE, owner of Futuristic Coney Island (and several other locally misnamed businesses), pulled his full-size sedan into our drive. Crinkled napkins and paper cups fell from his door as he stormed up to Wally’s office.

“This isn’t funny, Sawyer! You think you can just walk into my place and steal cheese? Yeah, well you can’t! Well, you apparently can, but it’s still not funny!”

Wally opened the door and looked at him.

“Hey,” Mr. Madge said, “you’re not Sawyer! Where’s he hiding?”

“I’m sorry, but I don’t know who you’re talking about.”

“Of course you do! He owns this place…!” and then he paused for about twelve seconds, taking a good look at the surroundings. “…This isn’t Deer Dairy, is it?”

“It isn’t.”

Boy, did his expression change real quick. He fixed his tie with one hand and retreated to his car, which in turn retreated to the street and drove away.

This afternoon, a representative of the real Dear Dairy showed up with a cheesecake-gift and informed us that their delivery van’s GPS had been malfunctioning recently. We all had a good laugh and partook of the kindly gift with high spirits.

I realized that Wally wasn’t present by then, though, so I searched the premises for him. He was nowhere to be found. I even briefly interrogated our hoarder coworker, asking if he had kidnapped him. (He said no, but that doesn’t generally mean much.) The mystery, therefore, stood: Who would eat Wally’s piece of cheesecake?

Wally had, in fact, driven home in secret, admitting to himself that he was unable to stay awake anymore. He called the rest of this week off, leaving us plenty of time to clinch our horseshoe prowess.

Three St. Andrew’s Hospitals too many, a Tragedy in one act

I’ve had a very long day, longer than I would have preferred or could have prepared for. It’s involved several forms of transportation across the state and away from work, which sounds like a relief until you realize that I was on an absolutely unnecessary business trip that involved too many hospitals of the same name. Let me expound.

Yesterday for Watson Elementary’s middle school commencement–assured to be a marvelous affair year after year–there were meant to be multicolored streamers available for decorating the gym walls. These streamers were nowhere to be found, told us Principal RILEY Stirrup early this morning, who had ordered the streamers via http://www.endlessssupply.com, one of our company’s biggest online-delivery-service clients. This delay, this one instance of misplaced customer dissatisfaction, was enough to set Wally on one of his the-customer-is-always-right skirmishes, and I, of course, was the first person he saw to help.

Since 7:30 a.m. it has been a relationship-reaffirming road trip with my boss and me and our two-stones-worth of fancy paper.

“Do you think we should stop for some breakfast before we hit the highway?” he started off.

“Did you recruit me so that I could help you make this decision?”

“No, I just thought we might need it.”

“We need this car, but is that something you think we need to go get?”

He glanced sideways. “If you don’t want breakfast, then fine. I’ve always been kind of a go-getter, but we can wait if you’d prefer.”

We were off on a tangent and then on the road.

Now, something worth understanding about where I live is the roadwork.

Wally took a detour from Exit 48 to 49.

The overpass at 49 was closed down to one-way traffic.

We sat staring at a red stop sign for 5 minutes before they waved us through. And Led was on the radio during that wait.

At 12:30 we reached the school. At 12:43 we got the chance to hang a left and actually go into the driveway. At 12:52 we found a parking spot.

The doors to the administrative offices were locked because their walls were being repainted–no surprise there. We dropped our parcels outside the door, and then we just had to find where our executive officer was hiding. Where do you imagine management would be at this time?

Why, the hospital, where else? St. Andrew’s Hospital, according to the lady cleaning the halls at the time. (JANET R.? I didn’t ask for a name.) Try the emergency entrance desk for directions; Mr. Stirrup had a concussion this morning.

Sad news, but we there was no time for comfortable conversation. I punched it into Wally’s truck’s GPS’s search bar, and guess how many addresses came up?

It’s four. (Yes, four. See, three too many. 1+3=4. QED.) And we had no idea which one this “Mr. Stirrup” was at.

The first we went to was actually a cluster of satellite practices.

The second one had nobody by the of name Riley Stirrup.

The third was closed for construction. It looked kind of shady.

The fourth and final one, which we crawled into, was the largest of them all. There the receptionist (TERRY?) told us that they did have a Riley Stirrup but that he wasn’t expecting guests. We told him that we didn’t expect him to be in the hospital, and at that he let us go up to his 4th floor room, suggesting we take the stairs.

“Mr. Stirrup?” Wally opened with, along with the door.

“Yes?” Riley said, sitting up and closing his magazine on a finger.

“I understand that you never received the party streamers that you ordered from http://www.endlessssupply.com? Well, my associate and I happen to be suppliers for that service, and we just delivered your streamers this afternoon.”

“…Okay, cool.”


“We were going to send someone to the hobby store or something, but I guess that works.”


“Appreciate it, thanks, guys.” He then lifted his magazine once again.

We saw ourselves out the same way we came in, namely a state of–now extreme–hunger. We picked up fast food and drove home in silence.

I asked Wally when we got back at the warehouse if he was satisfied with his work for the day. “Gotta do whatcha-gotta do,” he said and walked away.

I questioned Wally’s true feelings when I found out later that he was closing down the http://www.endlessssupply.com account.

What I want to know is this: why St. Andrew? Because after some quick research, I found that Andrew is the patron saint of fishing and Germany, neither of which have much significance for the area. Maybe the hospital founder was an Andrew, or maybe they started small and drew more people in. I don’t know. I’m just exhausted right now. Deflated. I’m so not with it that I could report myself missing. In fact I just might do that and hide in bed for a few days.

Seeing the glass half full

You know what’s odd? Circles. Circles? Yes, circles, but most importantly, the number pi that’s contained in each one. It’s everywhere! Smoke detectors? Yep, they’re round. Toilet paper rolls? Those too. The plastic wheels on your office chair? Yes, bloody yes–we’re talking about a pretty basic shape here.

Contained somewhere deep in the hidden digits pi is:

  • Your birthday
  • Your social security number
  • The year you were born multiplied by the day of the month you read your very first word
  • And even the binary translation of the entire works of William Shakespeare

I will not lie. That’s an impressive laundry list of achievements, and I’ll bet you it’s not even worn out yet. I admit that I don’t know any of those things that I mentioned above, and it’s really quite humiliating that pi can do it with such ease.

Over the last few days I’ve gotten to thinking–that thinking has lead to more thinking, and soon enough I’ve found myself in thoughts so deep that I could put the Mariana Trench out of business.

I realized that I may never have a second of free-time again, and while I will always be able to look about me, find something as simple as a circle, and think, “Man, I wish I could get around like you do,” that’s no excuse for me to be sitting on the floor playing patty-cake with the wall all day. It’s time to get to work. Literally.

It started with a phone call last weekend from my department oversight, Mr. WALLY Walid-Washington. Wally told me he needed our overstock warehouse moved around a little because we were bringing in a huge crayon buyout; it was such a good offer, we apparently “would be jerks to pass on it.”

So here we have the warehouse–packed already, mind you, like a house-fire suitcase–and about 1/3 of that space’s worth of unused crayons that had to all fit by the next day.

This is me in panic mode, and I never lose my chill. I was up at 4 a.m. to get to work and start manoeuvering heavy machinery for the sole benefit of the company. I was the only one there. But that didn’t stop me. By the time the morning crew started showing up I had a row of shelves gone and everything that was on it got condensed into subsequent space.

I had a chat with the shift supervisor, he acknowledged my efforts and shrugged, and I exited the building with the understanding that I just saved the day.

Wally saw me the next day and he laughed. He said, “You’re a real buffoon, you know that? You moved the wrong shelves. We bring in shipments on the other end.”

I felt the deflating defeat on soul. What are you supposed to say when you make the greatest effort and then realize that you haven’t done anything? Can you accept the fact that this greatest effort of yours has failed to garnish their tarnished perception of you?

Of course this feeling fizzled out for the most part, but the terrible tremors from this emotional earthquake still sometimes return and make me stop what I’m doing and just stare at the wall for a 30 second reverie and then let me go back to what I was doing. You know, everybody’s had those moments. You just have to forget about them.

I ultimately decided that I’m going to start seeing these moments as negative experiences that need some kind of neutralizing. I made a mistake at work, so now I’m starting a blog. I fail at something; I succeed at two things. If that’s not the pathway to success, I don’t know what is. Inventing a new jelly bean? No. Actually, I hadn’t thought of that, but regardless…

You are now officially a part of my quest to success. Together, we can bring this glass from half-empty to half-full. It’s not impossible. You just have to be ready to change (i.e. never repeat yourself) and maybe get a little irrational. Once you can do those things, who knows how far you’ll go?