Friday, November 6, 2009
Fun with Forklifts
At the good old days when I worked at a warehouse and then later loaded and unloaded aircraft for a living. I have had many accidents with forklifts but none as bad as the one above, (well one ALMOST as bad, but we'll get to that). I once drove a standup forklift into a garage door too small for it. Thank God I wasn't driving too fast or else I would have been toast. Then I had a forklift go through a rotten floor in a trailer. That wasn't a good thing.
But the most joyful mistake I ever made with a forklift was one shining evening in Louisville, KY. A DC-3 had just landed with priority cargo for the Ford Assembly Plant on the other side of the airport. The priority cargo was 6 barrels of differential fluid strapped to two pallets. The airport police stopped by to admire the venerable DC-3. I offloaded the pallets with no problem, one at a time because I didn't want the extra long forks to go through the aircraft. After offloading them, I did a standard trick. Since the forks were long enough to take both the pallets I proceeded to push them both together. I forgot all together that I had tilted the forks up to get at the pallets when they were on the aircraft. Needless to say, disaster ensued. The aforementioned forks punctured one of the barrels on the second pallet. Right in front of the airport police too! Then came the show.
See, this stuff is considered hazardous material due to its environmental impact. So a call was made to the Airport Fire station. I expected just a truck with some absorb-all sand to some out. Oh no, I wasn't going to get off that easy. The whole brigade came out! Lights and sirens galore. You'd think I crashed an airplane on the tarmac. And the real punch line was that this was in full view of the departing and landing flights. A Southwest 737 taxied by, loaded with incredulous passengers wondering what fool caused this disaster!
Meanwhile I had to call the boss about this little incident and the plant is screaming for their priority cargo. Oh the joy of air freight!
We got the barrel upright on the other end before it all ran out, but what spilled on the ground had to be cleaned up. We dumped several bags of absorb-all on it, then shoveled the result into a barrel. I had to sign a statement that this material would be disposed of in an environmentally responsible manner. (As far as I know, the barrel is still sitting in the airport cargo bay my company rented in Louisville waiting to be disposed of in an environmentally responsible manner).
The freight was delivered, the plant didn't shut down, and they even accepted the punctured barrel with no comment. So I guess all ended up being happy with the world.
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