Thursday, June 21, 2012

Puddles Is The Name

After several humid days of temperatures in the mid 90s, todays high of 85° was somewhat of a relief. But it was still too warm for my liking. Fortunately, my errands were all of the early morning variety and I was in air-conditioned comfort before it really heated up. For some reason, this weather always makes me wonder how I worked at Koos Inc. for nearly 17 years. My employment at 4500 13th Court has provided me with an abundance of thought-provoking stories. Some are fascinating, while others are a bit humorous, but most will leave you shaking your head and saying wow.

This early tale from the Koos vault reveals… 

What Koos Inc. Did To Me

Some of you are probably aware that I have the rather unusual nickname of Puddles. Previously in this blog, I have mentioned how I acquired this unique sobriquet. Today you get the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Koos Inc. is responsible.

It was a sultry June day at Koos Inc. I had been working there a week or so, I still learning the ropes. 40-pound bags of Ortho finest 28-4-8 were the fertilizer du jour. My job was to stack these bright orange bags off a conveyor belt onto a pallet in a specific pattern. The finished pallet of bags would weigh a ton.

2000 glorious pounds.

By the way, did I mention that this ton would be completed in less than 5 minutes? Please don’t feel too sorry for me, I had a partner stacking with me at the end of that miserable conveyor belt. Barring any difficulties, it would spit out 12 to 15 tons of chemical lawn food every hour.

Every hot, sweaty hour.

There were two other guys at the other end of that godforsaken conveyor belt. They filled and sealed the bags. It was also their responsibility to keep track of how many bags and pallets we put out.

We had been working for about an hour and it was beginning to become more humid and muggy. The sweltering atmosphere must have been what woke our Supervisor up from his nap. Rubbing his eyes, he stumbled over to our area and asked for our “count”.

Virgil, the bagger, made up an amount and the Supervisor staggered away satisfied. After he was out of earshot, Harry, the sealer, slapped Virgil on the back of the head and told him to make up a proper tally sheet, complete with our names.

That’s when the nickname Puddles was conceived.

Virgil quickly scribbled down his name and Harry’s as bagger and sealer. Virgil then looked up from the sheet and stared at my stacking partner and me. It should be noted that Virgil had a bit of a problem. It was called heroin. He didn’t know who we were. He was lucky he remembered his own name. So he improvised and gave us nicknames.

Never let it be said that drug altered minds can’t perform under pressure.

Still peering intently, he wrote down “Stretch” for my partner. That actually made sense, Ryan, “Stretch’s” given name, was about 6’5” and weighed about 150 pounds. I wondered what he would put down for me. I was a shade over 6 feet tall and quite a bit more than 150 pounds.

Okay, a whole lot more.

Virgil gawked at me a little longer, whispered something to Harry and then broke into a huge grin of rotting teeth. He proudly announced, “You’re Puddles” and wrote it on the sheet.

Mopping my moist brow, I boldly asked, “Puddles?” Harry spoke up and said that it was because I was sweating so profusely there were puddles around me. Feeling a tad clammy and maybe even sticky, I was in no position to argue. I was officially christened Puddles.

The name has stuck with me as I became involved with softball and the rest is history.

I should mention that it wasn’t only the hot weather that inspired pulling this blog from the vault. This morning I received this brief email from my good friend, John “Kool Papa” Schwarz:
“You're not Puddles, you've never been Puddles. You're Paul Vagnoni, and if anyone has a problem with that, tell them to come and see me. I guarantee, I sweat more than you do.”

Evidently, this weather gets to a lot of people. Even someone called “Kool”. Thanks, John, I needed that.

Until next time…from the booth.

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