Monday, October 5, 2009

Pranks at the Power Plant - Time to Reminisce

Back in the late 1970s I worked as a temp at a power plant. Most places I could have earned around $2.50 an hour as a secretary so I was thrilled with my $4.50. Until I found out that the position, being union, started at over $7! Not to mention phenomenal perks and benefits. These people were well cared for. They complained all the time though. There was constant friction between union and management. My position, for instance, was only supposed to last 2 weeks, but ended up lasting 5 1/2 months because they couldn't fill the position due to a union requirement that the person hired had to know shorthand. Even as a temp, I had to know it. But the person rarely if ever had to use it. They found that most people who know shorthand don't want to lose the skill, so they wouldn't accept the position that didn't actually use it. Fortunately I was perfect. I could honestly say that I knew shorthand. But I could only drrraaawww shorthand if someone spoke very slowly. So it worked out.

They were pretty serious about their union stuff tho. Once I tightened a loose screw on my desk with my fingers and got a lecture because I had "cost some union guy his overtime." Um...okay. I remember the management guys being nice, serious, mournful looking worn out and nervous guys while the union guys seemed to always have a good time. They certainly found plenty of time for pranks. My tasks consisted of keeping and distributing supplies, running the switchboard and doing whatever I could to help the secretaries with proofreading or typing reports and things. I was also basically the receptionist, although you don't get tons of visitors at a power plant. The media sometimes, when there were nuclear plant controversies and such. I also made announcements over the loudspeaker.

One day I was in my little room and one of the other girls came running in, pulling the pocket door shut behind her and locking it. It seems one of the young men had been chasing her around with a lizard. Just then the lunch buzzer sounded, and she knew he would not waste any time going, so she confidently opened the door - and let out a scream! The fellow had indeed left, but not without tying the lizard to the door frame with a long string so that when she opened the door she was eyeball to eyeball with the dangling lizard! She got revenge later when he and a few other guys were repairing something down below our second story window. She got a few of us together and we all dumped large glasses of ice water out our window on the count of 3. Those guys might have been macho when it came to lizards, but they did some screaming of their own!Sometimes people took it too far, of course. One poor guy cut off part of his finger in the metal shop. A quick search did not turn up the missing part, so he was hustled off to the hospital. When he came back to work, he was greeted by the grisly sight of the end of his finger, tacked to the bulletin board with a R.I.P. note taped above it. He was NOT HAPPY!

There was one woman in particular though, who soon held the title in prank playing. Her name was Joyce. Someone told me she had formerly been a nun but was too high-spirited to stay in that profession. She definitely kept things lively. One girl would come in every morning to the kitchen, grab a foam coffee cup off the stack, get water from the tap, and turn to lean against the sink, drink her water and visit a few minutes. One day she found the water dripping all over her, from tiny pin holes Joyce had put in the bottom of the cup. The girl was good natured about it, threw her cup away - and grabbed one off the OTHER stack, thereby repeating the whole prank again! Naturally Joyce had done the top cup in each stack! Another girl was going on a hot date immediately after work one Friday. She brought a fancy long sleeved shirt and dress pants to change in to, and left them in a bag in the women's restroom. We all made sure to linger long enough to see her come flying upstairs, run in to the bathroom and - yes, sure enough frustrated screams erupted moments later, the word "JOYCE!!!" among them. Of course we already knew that Joyce had been at work with her needle yet again. This time spending her lunch break sewing the shirt sleeves together just below the cuff and the pants also! Another time she photocopied a rather risque picture from someone's calendar of a naked man lying on his side between a campfire and a motorcycle with a bottle of whisky rather strategically placed. She tacked it above the desk of the secretary to the President, who didn't notice it until her boss brought a bunch of visiting big-wigs in to introduce them to her. They kept glancing above her head while they were talking to her, and when they were gone, she looked to see what they'd been so interested in!

I turned 19 while I worked there and I have to admit it was a fun place for a young person to work. I even managed to get in a few pranks of my own. But I think this post is long enough. Don't you?


Sassy Granny ... said...

There's nothing quite so humility-producing as being pranked. I learned a long time ago not to take myself too seriously, so you can be sure I'm on the receiving end a lot! I love a good laugh, and I admire people who think of wild & whacky things to pull on others (provided they're not hurtful).

Great dose of humor for the day. Thank you.


Cherdecor said...

Those were all funny stories. It sounds like it was a fun place for you to work.

Protege said...

Unions are a big thing i Scandinavia. We all have to belong to one and we pay quiet large fees every month, but then again, we do get something in return.
I have also had pranks played on me at work, they seemed a bit cruel at that time, but made for a good laugh later.;)

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

Sounds like at least YOU enjoyed working there! Some others, too, obviously. Wonder what the management's take on it was?

Susan said...

Enjoyed this - hope I don't step on any toes, but the union shenanigans don't surprise me any. I absolutely REFUSED to join the teacher's union when I taught, which didn't make me real popular, but I stuck to my guns. So much nonsense with most of them!

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

Wow. I can honestly say I've never worked in a place with that level of pranks going on. glad you enjoyed it.

jenniferw said...

That part about the finger is simply grisly! The very idea!

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