Flattened Noodles

With all the heavy machinery, sharp tools, and scary moving parts in the printshop, the last thing you expect to get you are the flat files.

Yet here lies the body of Shop Boy, hands clutched to his beet-red ears, welts swelling on the back of his skull, tears in his eyes … laughing his fool head off. That would be the noggin nearly three sizes smaller than usual.

It’s moving day at Typecast Press’ secondary studio, the … um … overflow space. The letterpresses have all been positioned. Next come the tray cases and workbench. A corner rounder here, a perforator there, a drill press over there. And a 10-foot stack of wooden flat files, 41 inches wide and 30 inches deep. Perfect for storing paper and samples, lovely and handy as heck.

You already know enough about Shop Boy to not be much surprised by what you are about to read.

Instead, let’s just talk a little about a brother-in-law, Tom Beal: New Hampshire guy. Machine Whisperer. Brings them back from the dead. Never met a stranger. Extremely generous. He gave us the flat files, press motors, other equipment, his expertise and more hours of free labor than we can count. Oh, and he’s a freakin’ lumberjack.

I mention that last part only so that, the next time you’re guiding a mammoth stack of flat files into a corner and Tom Beal is braced against an immovable object on the other side and pushing with his legs toward the target wall, you do not — and let me try to be clear about this — don’t lean your body toward the back of the stack to help guide it. Before I could scream, the flat files had pinned my head to the wall. Not hearing a scream, and not able to see me from the other side of the files, Tom kept pushing. How I got the old coconut out of there I can’t tell you — but it nearly cost me both ears.

(Cue the chirping birds.)

Speaking of which, did I mention that Tom plays the autoharp? Always strikes me as … oh, I guess the less said about that, the better.

I love the guy, but my head hurts already.

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