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Wednesday, Sep. 28, 2016

Ketchup Anticipation is Sweet

Posted Tuesday, July 26, 2011, at 2:58 PM

" I had the perfect plan......The ketchup shotgun."
After I graduated college, I began my career as an entry level employee and started scraping myself toward the top. The company was very conservative and offered great benefits and challenges:

* All male management was to wear suits; black or brown wingtip shoes, long sleeve dress shirts (white or blue only) with preferred Pin-Point stitching, and button down collars. Women were to wear business attire and the company preferred everything to be dry cleaned or pressed and starched. The belts had to match the suit or shoes -- white belts were not advised. Herb Tarlek (WKRP) would not be welcome at my company.

* Men were also to be groomed: hair above ear and collar, hair is also to be neatly trimmed with preferred cuttings monthly. And the only facial hair would be a mustache, with the tips stopping at the corner of the mouth. The mustache rule surprised me but I noticed that it was introduced in the middle 70's. If you know any Village People songs, you would know the type of mustache I am talking about.

* All management was expected to stay current in management systems. This would include company training, college courses, completing higher education degrees, or just training yourself by using certain applications repetitively (computers, for instance). Any of these would develop the skill set required to manage a large group of employees and meet the needs of the company for promotion.

* Management was allowed to listen to NPR.....just kidding.

During the first three years of employment, I went through the ranks and reached my 5 year goal within three years. Also, during this time, I had attended several classes for the company.

With my new level, I was about to have to take the toughest class that the company had to offer. The class was called Management Basic Training (MBT); this class was for mid-level managers and was taught in the military format:

* The class was 6 weeks long and away from home base. So if you had a family, well, tough. You were not going to be able to visit them for 6 weeks. However, you were allowed a phone call every night as long as it was planned.

* The class was scheduled from 6 a.m. Until 6 p.m., running Monday through Saturday...............Sunday was special, we were able to sleep.

* Everyone was to act like robots or mimic the instructors. If the instructors took their suit coat off, you could take yours off............etc., etc.

* Students were allowed two chances at tests and if you had a retake you would begin class 1 hour before the other students the following day; this way, the other students knew that you did not pass the day before. Everything was "red inked". To this day I don't use a red ink pen.

* Students were paired with another management person from another part of the country.................This is where the story begins.

Twenty-six company managers were standing in a hotel lobby at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, in Memphis, TN, waiting for the instructors to meet us and assign our rooms; two to a room. No one spoke to the other and just stood around; everyone was nervous and some were scared, I was one of the scared ones.

This class (MDT) was designed for operators, but engineers had to attend as well. This was an unfair advantage for the operators, but it gave them fire power to pick on the engineers. I worked as an engineer.

The Instructors walked in at precisely 5:45 p.m., for a scheduled 6 p.m. introduction meeting (no one is late, EVER), it's called Lombardi time. If something was scheduled at 7 p.m., everyone should be there by 6:45 p.m.

There was one lead instructor and three assistants. They handed out our agendas and told us where to meet in the morning. Then they gave us our roommate assignments.

I was handed a peach of a person and I'm sure he felt the same way about me. He was from Connecticut and was wearing a flame-retardant suit that looked like it cost $1,000. His hair was perfect and his shoes were Italian Loafers, wing tipped. His luggage was the most impressive thing about him. The luggage was a five feet vertical hard-cased garment bag on wheels; the kind that opens in the middle and has places for hanging clothes and drawers for underclothes. He wouldn't even have to unpack.

As he walked toward me and extended his hand, I noticed his jaw stuck out further than his chin. And then he spoke. His mouth was moving but the sounds were coming from his nose......you know what I'm talking about.....he sounded like he had just graduated from Harvard and dated a woman named Buffy. Unbelievable, I was going to be living with Mr. Howell. To top it off, he was an operator.

We immediately went to our rooms and began setting up for six weeks of hibernation away from civilization. He setup next to the window and I took the bed next to the bathroom; that decision would be crucial to the plan I would have to carry out later in the class. I unpacked and he started heading to the bar. It's as if he knew he would cruise through the class and I would be up late every night studying.....he knew I was an engineer and he knew I was from Kentucky....he thought he knew me better than I did. What he didn't know was I was not a Kentucky Blue-blood, I was originally from Missouri.

Kentucky Blue Bloods are quite a story, but I don't have time to cover that issue in this story. Google "Kentucky Blue Bloods" and you will be amazed, surprised, and confused. Trust me, read between the lines.

As Thurston got to the door, he turned and asked me if I was a redneck...he said he had never seen one before. I thought about it before I answered......I was actually missing three things from being a full blooded redneck:

* A fifty year old trailer with the wheels missing,

* A full or half mullet haircut, and

* A full collection of Led and Mellencamp albums.....I do have most but not all. Led fans need not feel punked. Led crosses most lines and is a favorite for all cliques or social retardations, from a communication standpoint.

I looked at Thurston and answered "yes". I decided to take the other definition of Redneck which was a term used for poor farmers in the south.....as it happened, I grew up on a farm until fourth grade. Farming requires a lot of bending over and the sun would burn the back of their necks.......I was not referring to the derogatory term of "cracker"........I'm far from that.

Thurston responded, "I can help you in this class, if you can at least read and write." I looked at his face, he was serious.

At any other time, I would have done something unprofessional, but doing that in this class can get you sent home, and disciplined. So, I decided not to say anything to him.

He rolled his eyes and left.

I finished unpacking and set out my clothes for the next day, shoes and all. By the way, I have OCD. I then went down to the hotel bar to get a beer. I arrived and was camouflaged from the main bar by large plants. I heard Thurston talking to some people and bad mouthing me.............all of the participants were laughing. There were about seven classmates in the group....of course all were from the northeast. I turned around and went back to my room instead of starting something. Thurston came to the room about midnight and changed into some beige silk pajamas and made as much noise as possible to keep me awake........I began to hate those silk pajamas that very night.....Men don't sleep in silk pajamas....undies or nothing.

During the first week of class I was the butt of every joke and every prank. Even the instructors were in on it. I knew something had to be done, but fighting was not an option or I would have hit Thurston on the first night. I knew I had to get my respect back and I needed to do it without anyone finding out or proving it at least. I had the perfect plan......The ketchup shotgun.

The ketchup shotgun is a toilet bowl setup that can absolutely destroy a person's ego and bring out the humility from deep within. Here is the original setup:

* Raise the toilet lid and seat

* Take a ketchup packet and fold it in half; do the same with another packet

* Place the packets on top of the toilet bowl and aim the end seams toward the middle of the commode; this would mean that the folded area of the packets faced away from the toilet bowl. Also ensure that the toilet seat supports (located on the bottom of the seat) will set on top of the ketchup packets. These seat supports are usually toward the front of the seat and not toward the water tank.

* Lower the Seat..................easily

* Lower the Lid....................carefully

* As the person sits on the seat, the packets explode like a shotgun.

I decided to do the prank on Monday of the second week. Thurston had already patterned his day. He would eat, study, use the rest room (I don't know what he was doing, but it took 15 minutes so I guessed), then go out for the night (while I was studying, of course). I was going to alter that schedule on Monday night.

After Monday night class, I immediately went up to the room and set up the commode. I put the packets under the seat and carefully lowered the seat. I knew it wouldn't take much to set off the packets. You see most men fall from about two feet above the seat.....I think we do this for every chair, couch, and toilet we encounter.

After I set up the plan, the anticipation was about to give me an anxiety attack.

Thurston strutted in around 8 p.m. Without saying a word he walked in the bathroom. After about two minutes, I heard two loud pops (kind of like a Pringles can), then a huge scream, and the door opened. Thurston screamed, "Help me, man I'm bleeding and I don't know what happened". His pants and underwear were around his ankles.

I yelled, "Man get down to the Lead Instructor's room now." And he opened the door and started running down the hall. As he was running, students were opening their doors to see what the commotion was. Keep in mind that Thurston can only run/walk stiff legged because everything was around his ankles. I forgot to tell you that we had six girls in our class; sorry about that.

Now in a situation like this, the person that pulled the prank has to keep a good head. Instead of following Thurston down the hall, I went to the bathroom, wiped down everything (there wasn't much there, most of it ended up.....you know where), thumped the packets in the commode, and then flushed. All evidence was gone.

I immediately ran out into the hall and was almost completely caught up with Thurston by the time he reached the lead instructor's room. There Thurston was standing outside the door with his hands over his crotch screaming for the instructor to come to the door. I will never know how I was keeping a straight face.

The lead instructor said, "What the hell is wrong with you boy."

I started to laugh and caught myself which made me snort and blow out a flare bugger. A flare bugger is one that everyone sees but no one looks directly at.

Thurston says, "I'm bleeding".

The lead says, "Boy, there is nothing running down your leg, so you're not bleeding. Get in the bathroom and clean yourself off." Thurston went in. The instructor then focused his attention on me, "Boy, what do you know about this".

I said, "I heard two pops and he came out screaming". We started walking toward my room. He checked the bathroom and noticed it was clean. The lead then walked over to the next two rooms (Everyone was still in the hall) and said, "Was JJ running down the hall with Thurston (I won't say his real name)". Everyone said "yes."

Whew. I was covered. I then walked back to my room like John Travolta on the sidewalk in Saturday Night Fever. Everyone in the hall was looking at me; some knew what happened................I wanted some of the them too; I wanted the next five weeks to be better than the first.

Thurston walked in about 15 minutes later, grabbed his books and left. I have never felt so good about something.....I couldn't stand that guy. I then looked over at his bed and realized that I hated those silk pajamas even more. I left and went to the convenient store that was next to the hotel. I purchased some cellophane. As I was walking back into the hotel, I noticed that Thurston was in the bar drinking.....that made me happy. I Took Care of all of my business. I then saran wrapped the commode.......so tight, you couldn't tell at all. I went to bed.

About 2 a.m. I heard the door open and Thurston came in and got ready for bed; he went to sleep. He awoke sometime during the night and went to the restroom. He didn't say anything, scream, or try to kill me. I was surprised I didn't hear anything. When I woke up the next morning, I went to the bathroom and took a shower and dressed. Right before I left the bathroom, I noticed the silk pajama bottoms lying in the trash can with little spots all over them. I smiled........I won.

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