From the archives:
I was a crew leader in a cutting mill for a cabinet factory. I was using a forklift to unload a truck full of 4â€™ x 8â€™ sheets of particle board. A stack of particle board was about 36â€ high. I would drive the stacks into the warehouse and stack them as high as I could to the ceiling which was about as high as the forks on the forklift could go.
On this day, the truck showed up close to quitting time and it was a Friday. On Fridays, everyone went down the street to the bar after work so I was in a hurry to get that truck unloaded for a deserved cold beer and a good time. So I put the last unit in the warehouse as high as it would go and then I put the forklift in reverse and hauled ass.
The wood shop was separated from the mill by a wall with a standard height garage door opening complete with a garage door. I have driven through this thing a million times. Only a select few people were allowed to drive the forklifts and I considered myself to be the best. I knew just based on experience that if I drive through the length of the warehouse with the â€œforks downâ€ lever pushed forward then the forks would hit the floor by the time I get to the garage door. So, Iâ€™m at full speed in reverse and holding the lever forward to make the forks go down and I can see the owner of the company standing by the office watching me. All of a sudden the expression on the owners face changes. His mouth opens and his eyes widen.
Next thing I know, the back end of the forklift jumps off the ground and slams back down and I hear a huge crash and something is piling up over the top of the forklift. I was surrounded by debris and was in a cloud of thick dust. I had no idea what happened. I thought that the floor had caved in. I sat there until the dust settled a little bit and then I could see that I had went through the garage door with the forks still up. I had taken out the wall above me and the garage door was mangled on top of the forklift. Apparently, I had not had the â€œforks downâ€ lever all the way forward.
I totally expected to be fired. I totally should have been fired. I wanted to fire myself, re-hire myself and then fire myself again. I was so embarrassed. I apologized and cleaned up as much of the mess as I could. The silence was so thick that it was suffocating. I was so humiliated that I could be that stupid. I was looking the owner right in the eyes when I did it. I apologized and went to the bar and dried to drink the memory away. I knew that I was going to get fired for that. But somehow I wasnâ€™t