Friday Firesmith – Castor Oil and Coffee

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In retrospect, the boss likely realized that hiring his son to work in the wood yard was not only a very bad idea but it was also a very dangerous thing to do. The wood yard was where log trucks dropped of their loads of pine and hardwood so the trees could be loaded on an enormous steel rack to be cut into lengths by an equally large saw. The saw was six feet in diameter and had hundreds of very large teeth that were attached, not fixed. Every once in a while a saw tooth would disengage and go flying. It was like working in a place where someone randomly fired a fifty caliber rifle every two weeks.

I held the lowest position and therefore the most dangerous position in the yard. When the boss’s son was hired, he was hired to be even lower than that, so he might appreciate the chances he had to have a better life. The plan backfired because the young man, all sixteen years of him, had never really been out of the house and the idea of working in a place where steel flew and trees rolled off the rack excited him for all the wrong reasons.

Worse yet, he inadvertently ratted us out about things we had been getting away with forever. We were supposed to come in early on Fridays and get off early on Fridays but instead we just got off early on Fridays. The new kid went home and told daddy he was always the first one there on Fridays. He didn’t mean to reveal our stealing of an hour every week but it just came up in conversation. Really, he did mean well but he really had to go. There was moonshine being sold by one of the guys who had worked there for many years, and mostly everyone knew it. But to have a set of loose lips out there… no, he had to go.

The new kid came in one day and we told him we were taking a day off from work. We had a beer keg set up on some pallets and I was drinking whiskey straight out of the bottle. Two of the guys had already passed out from drinking and another could barely stand. We told him he could have the rest of the day off, just go on back home, and we’d get back to work the next day.

Of course, he went home and told on us, as well he should have. The boss comes up with a deputy behind him and discovers that everyone is on the job, bright and sober. Everyone was given a breath test and everyone passed. The boss scratched his head and cursed under his breath. What was wrong with that boy?

The whiskey I was drinking was just ice tea and the keg was an old one used to prop on the card table in the break room. The two guys who were passed out were faking it. When the kid came back we shook our heads and told him we took “Drinking Day” seriously, and were really disappointed in him. After all, we told him, didn’t he know a person could become instantly sober by a cup of coffee with a tablespoon of castor oil? The young man considered this. Clearly we were now all sober. There was a bottle of castor oil by the coffee machine. We told him to wait until after work, knock back a couple of beers, and then try it. He was fascinated by this. He had just started experimenting with illicit drinking and the idea of being able to go from drunk to sober in a few moments appealed to him no end.

After work, I slipped him a six pack and a to go cup of coffee, no wait, just take the whole bottle of castor oil with you, just in case.

We never saw him again, but Monday morning the boss showed up and he was pissed. He had this wild ass story about somebody, and he glared at me, giving his son beer. Of course, he didn’t really believe that story after the first one, but the lad had also knocked down some pretty strong coffee and some castor oil trying to get sober. The results were he didn’t quite make it to the bathroom before the interesting effects of castor oil and strong coffee kicked in. They would have to replace the carpet in his bedroom.

Take Care,


Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit

Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.



24 thoughts on “Friday Firesmith – Castor Oil and Coffee

    • Believe it or not he went to college and got a business degree. He’s running the business now and has a couple of kids of his own. Pretty decent guy, actually but he doesn’t drink.


  1. Education always comes at a cost. [castor oil & coffee, lol, good one!]

    However, it can go both ways…
    Years ago, as an apprentice, I was sent out by my journeyman to find an ‘airhook’. After two hours of asking other craftsmen around the plant, I reported back empty-handed. As the journeymen commenced to laughter, I grabbed some scratch paper and preceeded to draw out a design of an ‘airhook’. I described the device down to the cabling, pulleys, how it would operate, et al. The laughter subsided and they all stood there with dumb looks on their faces, attempting to understand what the ‘prentice boy’ had come up with. Long story short, I was not sent out again.


      • ROTC cadets were sent out for a few feet of waterline while out onboard ship. They were also assigned to mail buoy watch. (I didn’t fall for either but I probably fell for some other stuff and still don’t know it)


        • We sent a guy out to see if the radio antennae was sparking. We told him he could see sparks when we were getting a signal. An officer saw him out there staring up in the sky and stood beside him, both of them looking up and finally the officer had to ask.

          I miss those days.


      • I worked in a truss plant/lumber yard for a long while. We used to send the rookies to the boss for the ‘board stretcher’ when webs were a bit short. Sometimes he would have his fun and sometimes he would send him in to the boys in the saw room so they could partake. Yep, always a good laugh back then.


    • At work, a woman came up to me and asked where the hammers were…I looked at her and said “left handed or right handed hammer?”. She stammered a little and said “I’m right handed, so I’ll take a right handed hammer”. I told her that I thought we might be out of them, since they are the more common ones, but let me ask someone from hardware. I saw a hardware employee down the aisle, so I shouted to him, asking if we had any right handed hammers in stock. He shouted back “No…I think the last one was sold about an hour ago”. It was funny that he played along, since he was too far away to hear my original discussion with the woman. So I picked up a so-called “left handed hammer” and told her that since she’s right handed, she’d have to use it with a slightly different hold on the handle…


  2. The sad thing is you can still get someone to fall for that “treatment” even to this day. Too funny thanks for sharing.


  3. When I lived in Houston a long time ago I heard a story from some offshore ruffnecks who had the privilege of training some Chinese oil platform workers. The story was that China had sent over a number of their best engineers to work offshore on some oil platforms in the Gulf to learn how to do it right.

    Offshore oil Ruffnecks take their jobs very seriously. It is a demanding job. They are very professional and take their jobs very seriously and are handsomely rewarded for it. It is a very difficult fraternity to get in to. Needless to say, the initiation rituals honed over the decades are legendary.

    You can image what happened when a handful of China’s smartest, wet behind the ears, barely speaking English engineers got locked up on small metal island in the middle of the Gulf for 3 months. Hilarity ensues. Damn I wish we had reality TV back then. Hell, I even heard about it, and I never worked in the oil industry.

    Pretty much every mind-fuck prank was pulled on them to the point where they quit, or demanded to quit. I imagine over in China now there is a cadre of oil industry managers who came from this experiment who now either hate the US with a passion, or loved it so much that they took the rituals back to China with them and now initiate newbie workers there with them. I’d like to think the later is true.


    • Ron, we used to do very bad thing to people who spoke English poorly. We’d shout out orders to other workers and the non English guys would see them doing it but then later on when they heard the same words….well, they never did quite figure out why some words had different meanings depending on what two guys were messing with them.


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