The Shop Clown
by Frank Tabor
I would imagine that nearly every shop in the country possesses a clown of one type or another.
You all know him. He's the guy that is funny sometimes, but often grates on the nerves of his fellow workers.
He'll pull anything to draw a laugh at somebody else's expense, sometimes dreaming up stunts that are down right dangerous.
Tying knots in the legs of coveralls will usually spring a laugh in the shop, whereas a lighted cigarette butt dropped into the back pocket of those same coveralls while the owner is weaning them usually winds up on the un-funny side.
The victim usually that his hemorrhoids are flaring up, that is, until the seat of his pants drops out.
I knew a welder who pulled this all of the tine, and it got to the point where he had to quit the stunt or get his clock cleaned.
One trick that usually works several times in a row, especially with a green man, is to get out of his sight and have access to his oxyacetylene hose.
Just when he gets the torch adjusted, and starts the operation, you fold his hose, pinching off the gas supply.
Immediately, the torch pops out. In most cases, the operator doesn't catch on the first time, but puts a quizzical gaze on the torch.
During my time in shops, I saw this pulled so many times that I carried the situation one step further to produce the gag cartoon here, which I sold to several welding publications, and even one airbrush magazine.
How about doing up this situation involving a bunch of firemen with a water hose . . ?
Strange, what a demented brain will conjure up.
I worked at one shop where we had a very busy clown.
If you left your station for a few minutes, you would often find grease on the inside of your welding hood head band when you returned.
He also liked to catch you busy laying down a welding bead, at which time he would quietly walk up close beside you and hit the steel table with a sledge hammer.
The resounding clang would usually make your feet leave the floor.
If you fabricated any weldment involving the use of pipe in the construction, you had to be extremely wary of this guy.
He'd spew acetylene into the open pipe and then stand by, snickering, until a spark touched it off.
Many cannon booms in the shop were the result of the prank.
One day, the trick backfired when he squirted acetylene from his cutting torch into a pipe I was marking out to burn.
Trying to appear innocent, he picked up his grinder to smooth off a spot at the other end of the big table we were sharing.
A grinder spark flew into the open end of the pipe toward him.
For the first time, both perpetrator and victim jumped into the air.
Everybody likes a laugh, but some characters carry stunts to extremes.
Then the funny isn't funny any more.
* Originally published in Northwest Metalworker