Go Ahead … Push

Most people hate football practice. It’s boring. It’s hard. It’s not as much fun as playing the game.

Shop Boy, in case you hadn’t noticed, is not most people. He loved football practice. Heck, it was his only chance to play against other guys as bad as he was — or even worse! Better than getting your head beaten in by a good team any day.

Yep, the CLCF (Cranston’s League for Cranston’s Future) Lightning Bolts were bad. And we didn’t like each other very much, either.

True story: At 15, Shop Boy was a much slighter fellow (weren’t we all?) at 5-foot-9 and just shy of 140 pounds. OK for a smallish running back or wide receiver, but those jobs were taken, so I volunteered to play on the — yikes — offensive line. Anyway, our quarterback, Shawn, thought he was a star, and cursed the linemen out before and after every play that failed. Most did. We eventually told him to knock it off, or else.

The “or else” was a play we of the offensive line secretly came up with. See, each time we got to the line of scrimmage, Shawn would call out “Down!” and “Set!” and the offensive line would shout out “Ready!” once we were in our three-point stances. Well, after one uncalled-for and extremely mean rant by Shawn against the guy next to me during a game, it was time. After “Down!” and “Set!” I called “Royal!” — the cue for the offensive linemen to lay down once the ball was snapped.

Oh, you should have been there. Six speeding defenders hitting our star QB at the same time. He was screaming, swearing at us and, yes, crying. A beautiful thing. The coach turned him into an extra wide receiver for his own safety.

The lesson, I guess, is that even Shop Boy can be pushed too far. So could the coach, who made me run about 2 million laps as punishment. Worth it.

What’s my point? Well, my mini-lecture last time on moving the Vandercook without damaging it got me to thinking that Shop Boy could have been a bit more, um, helpful than simply saying, “Don’t do it this way.” I thought about how we’d moved the Typecast Press Vandercooks — the No. 1 and the No. 3, at 400 and something like 1,200 pounds, respectively — around the shop by lifting the feet (with a johnson bar, sort of a long crowbar on wheels) and placing carpet remnants underneath, shag side down. Then you get a line of guys and you push, like a blocking sled in football practice. See?

What? Too big a leap? Too bad, Shawn … my blog. Cut me some slack, or else.

I was also thinking, how funny is it, with all of the amazing modern machinery around, that something as lowly as a carpet square could be the best way to move the seemingly immovable? That, yeah, brains beat brawn — you just know that the clever person who first utilized the carpet-square trick didn’t have a forklift handy. Even the pros, like the guys we use at North American Millwright, will tell you how often the most important tools are a johnson bar, wood blocks and a clear mind. (And believe me, if there is any doubt about whether you can safely move a machine yourself, why risk the heartache? Let the pros do it.)

Anyway, Shop Boy realized that he might have come across as some kind of know-it-all, a fairly laughable concept. Can you move a Vandercook with a forklift? Of course. But do you know how? Is there a better, safer way? Have you looked under your feet? Chances are that your rigger has. If he hasn’t, give him a nudge. We have a big move coming up in the next week or so, and you can bet Shop Boy will be taking notes.

Because these are all great old machines, well worth the 2 million laps or whatever it takes to safely move them.

Now, let me tell you a little bit about my lousy baseball career, like that one day … oh, OK, maybe next time.

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