The Long Way Home 3.4.2

By Steve Fernlund

Saturday, August 7, 2021, started off as just another shift at the Home Center. As usual, I was the first one to arrive, unlocked the gate and doors, turned on the lights, and did the routine maintenance of the paint machine. Being summer season, I had two co-workers with me that day and you’ll read more about them in a minute.

Around mid-morning I was out in the insulation trailer in the yard, helping one of our regular customers find the right stuff. He wore me out, what with watching him climbing over bales of insulation to find what he needed. Finally, we finished picking his insulation and went into the store to “ring him up.” 

The Home Center uses a pricing gun for scanning bar codes to the Point of Sale (POS) system (cash register in my day.) This gun is tethered to the POS by six feet of wire and was notorious for wrapping up around my clumsy feet. On this transaction, I scanned the insulation bales and other items, totaled the purchase, and accepted the credit card payment without incident. But while this guy was putting away his receipt and gathering his merchandise I turned away from the register and started away from the counter. 

What happened next is a blur in my memory, but was captured by the security cameras that the tyrannical owners had put in place to keep us from engaging in bad behavior. 

As I turned away from my soon to depart customer and head east, my right leg got tangled up in the pricing gun tether. My left leg strode forward but my momentum soon toppled me to the ground. My boss was right there, and being concerned for my well-being, he urged me to stay down on the floor until any damage was assessed.  The customer, who happens to be a doctor with our local hospital, rushed behind the counter to help me up. He ordered me to sit in a chair and proceeded to quickly inspect me for serious injury. Thankfully, there was nothing but a bruise on my left knee and a big one at the very center of my ego.

Much to my chagrin, the person at work who knows how to do such things had pulled the video and put it to music. Much merriment ensued as the video was shown around the store, eventually ending up on Facebook. In the video you can see the store owner, arms outstretched like an umpire making a close call at home plate while urging me to stay down. Next, you see my work sista come running to check on the commotion, and quickly finding out I wasn’t dying so she turned back to her business. And the doc, helping me up and replacing the pricing gun in its holster. 

To add to my humiliation, a sign soon cropped up behind the counter that said “The Hoot has worked ______ days without falling down.”

All this leads me to a recent fall that sadly was not memorialized on video but was still rather funny. As you know, we’ve had an unusually large amount of snow this winter and the accumulation on my roof needed removing. Not a fan of ladders, I retained the services of a strapping young man to get up there for the snow removal. He did a great job, and the two of us relocated all the snow that he’d taken from the roof. 

When we were done, he calculated how much I owed for his services and I realized I was a little short of the needed cash. I’d have to go inside and borrow from the Bohunk. Climbing the three stairs to the porch, something I’ve done for years without incident, my right boot caught on the edge of the top stair and I fell off the porch into three feet of snow. Helped back to the porch and lifted to my feet by my shoveling partner,  I made it inside, covered in snow, and got the cash to finish our transaction. 

The tumble on the deck was reminiscent of my fall last summer. Despite a growing bruise on my hip, I found myself laughing out loud as I remembered both tumbles, wishing I had security cameras to get this latest one.

It all is funny I suppose, and if you’d like to see the video clip from the Home Center, send me an email.

Published 3/4/2022   Northshore Journal