Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Scenes from the Forklift: I, Daredevil

Some people call it a pallet jack. Others call it a pallet-puller or a skid jack. I like to think of it as transportation.

I have to admit, I've become quite the Pallet Jack Pilot in my time. Like a kid on a scooter, I can zip from one end of the warehouse to the next... I can maneuver deftly between the piles of product left carelessly about the floor... I can even slalom the warehouse work-horse indefinitely without having to touch the ground! Yes, it has become almost second nature.

Until today.

I was cruising from the Department of Outbound Deliveries toward the Department of Inbound Deliveries, where CK (self-proclaimed "Supper Hero" of MSA One) and I were working for the day. As I was about to round the final corner, I noticed the way was bottle-necked with the forklift parked dangerously close to a skid of dead monitors. A less experienced Jack Jockey would have shied away from this tight avenue of approach, but not me. No, sir. I could see that I would easily have a few millimeters of breathing room on either side. Full-steam ahead!

I powered straight toward the forklift, knowing that only a last-second turn would put me past the obstacle. A mere heartbeat before slamming into the massive piece of machinery, I jerked the handle of my pallet jack violently to the right, swinging straight into the channel.

Well, I thought it was straight...

In hindsight, it looks like I missed my turn by a few degrees. As the front of my mechanical chariot cleared the side of the forklift, two things happened. First, I found myself heading directly toward CK, who had heard me coming and was watching my approach. The second (and more important) occurrence was the jamming of the jack between the front wheel of the forklift and the skid of dead monitors.

Sudden stop... for the pallet jack.

Newton's First Law of Motion states that a body at rest will tend to stay at rest, and a body in motion will tend to stay in motion. Well, my body was certainly in motion! Before my brain could comprehend what was happening, I was thrown smack-dab into the middle of a lesson in inertia.

Now, the handle of the jack stands about 3 1/2 to 4 feet off the ground, and it was this part that I was hanging onto (in front of me) at the moment of impact. As my body continued in a straight lined toward the stunned Supper Hero, this handle gave way before me by levering downward, such as it does when one uses it to jack up a pallet. At this point, I had a choice to make:
A. Let go of the handle and have it spring back towards me with great force, quite likely whacking me in a tender region as I flew over, or,
B. Continue hanging on and be reverse catapulted into the concrete floor, much like Wile E. Coyote.
Neither seemed to be a very attractive option at the time, and I had precious little time to choose.

In the end, I compromised. I held on as long as I could... Then, like a player in some sadistic, nutcracker version of leap-frog, I spread my legs, pushed the handle down and away from me, and landed clumsily at the exact moment the handle slammed back to it's upright position.

The racket drew a small crowd, not to mention a little blood to my cheeks, but I was none the worse for wear. In fact, instead of making me fear such dangerous antics, I think this incident may have opened my eyes to the possibility of a whole new career: Warehouse Stunt Man. Why not? They make movies with warehouses in them... And I could do the stunts for all the big name actors! Okay, so I probably won't be filling in for Stallone or Governor Schwarzenegger anytime soon, but I don't think Frankie Muniz or maybe the girl from "Spy Kids" is out of the question... Do you?
Post a Comment