“Mining for Gold–Part 1”

“Mining for Gold–Part 1”


Broken Urinal"Those bastards," Sherm griped to his buddy Ron who was standing next to him, "you'd think they could have decent urinals around here.  The damn pipes aren't even connected and they leak all over the place."  Ron nodded sadly in agreement.

That night Sherm's brother-in-law was over for dinner.  "Theo, I have a problem.  Maybe you can help me out," Sherm said, passing the potatoes.  "We've got crapper problems at our mine facility.  The pipes are rusted and leak.  The floor is always wet.  It's unpleasant as hell.  We might as well have an outhouse for all the good our decrepit indoor plumbing does.  I've told my supervisor repeatedly about the problem.  He says he turns in a report for repairs, but nothing seems to get done.  It infuriates me!  You work for the county health department, so tell me what I should do."

"File a complaint," Theo commented between chews.  "Just give a call and report them.  The county inspector will do the rest."

"That's all?" Sherm asked.

"That's all," Theo repeated.

The next morning Sherm was on the phone.  He located the Woodfinch County Sanitation Inspector and told him the story.  The inspector made a visit that afternoon.  Within an hour of the visit, he slapped the company with a health violation and a threat of a hefty fine if repairs were not made within ten days.  The company immediately hired a local plumber who completed the job in six days.

Sherm was proud of his accomplishment and bragged to his co-workers that he had made the company toe the line.  All the supervisors and managers were equally as happy.  They had been requisitioning corporate for months to make a variety of building repairs.  It seemed their requests were either denied or ignored.  It had been frustrating for everyone concerned.

Unbeknownst to the local management, corporate's reluctance to approve repairs was caused by the knowledge that they were planning to shut down the mine within the next eighteen months.  It was an unprofitable business, and they wanted to spend as little as possible on building improvements.  The county health department's violation forced them into action.

Despite the decaying office building, the mine had surprisingly well-maintained recreational facilities on the grounds.  As part of its reclamation efforts, the company created and stocked several small lakes.  Employees frequently spent weekends fishing and camping with their families.  The guard at the gate was familiar with all the faces.  Most everyone knew everyone else in the town, and most everyone worked at the mine.  So it was not surprising when Sherm showed up one weekend. 

Instead of going to the lakes, Sherm turned toward the back of the office building.  He loaded up his car with welding masks, rods, and other equipment.  The guard never noticed Sherm's activities; he was deeply absorbed in his copy of Field and Stream.  The guard probably never would have noticed–if the squealing of Sherm's back wheels hadn't drawn his attention. 

The guard walked around to the back of the building and up to Sherm's car.  "What's the trouble here, Sherm?  How come your trunk is hanging so low?  What do you have in there?"

"Oh, a bunch of company equipment I need for some remodeling I'm doing at home.  They gave me permission to borrow it for my project.  Damn, I never thought it would be so heavy."

"Well, let's take a look."  The guard viewed Sherm's trunk crammed with the equipment.

"And you say you have permission to take this stuff off the premises, Sherm?" the guard asked.

"Yeah, sure . . . uh, Abe Coulton, my supervisor, gave me the okay.  You can check with him on Monday."

"Well, I'll do that.  In the meantime, let's see if we can get you out of this muck."

The guard attached a winch to Sherm's car and pulled him out of the mud.  "That ought to do ya," the guard smiled.

Sherm returned the smile and waved.  "Thanks, pal," he said as he drove off.

The guard made a note of the transaction and the type of equipment he saw in the trunk.  He placed a note in Abe Coulton's box.

When Abe received the note on Monday morning….

Read Part 2 to find out Abe's reaction and Sherm's crafty plan.

Excerpted from Outrageous Conduct:  Bizarre Behavior at Work©


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