Headache! - A Father's Day Story

Growing up, my Dad worked construction. One of the jobs he performed was erecting a three-story fertilizer blending plant. This structure would arrive on three semi's with each level lifted into place by a hydraulic crane. Having gone on-site with Pop over the years during any school holiday, I knew that on his work site, one did not holler "Look Out!", because the natural reaction would be to look up. Looking up would expose your unprotected face to a falling object and present an open invitation for an injury. Instead, if you saw something falling, you were to holler "Headache!" which indicated something was falling. Without looking up, you should then run away from the general area around the structure being lifted.

One Thursday afternoon, we received a phone call at the house. From my Mom's general face expressions during the conversation, I knew something bad had happened. Pop's crew had been erecting a blend plant. While lifting the third and final story, a C-Clamp had broken and fell. A new guy on the crew saw it and shouted, "Look out!" Pop looked up just in time for the broken piece of the steel clamp to hit him in the face. It broke his nose, and when he arrived home late that night, both of his eyes were swollen shut. It was almost sickening to see this big bull of a man having to be led around by his hand because he could not see.

I volunteered to be his personal assistant and chauffeur on Friday. One of the errands on his list was to deposit his paycheck at the bank. At the time we lived in a little town in South Georgia population 5,000. And in a small town, the newspaper is published two days a week, Wednesdays and Fridays. But the newspaper was always the second best source of community news. The best source of news was the break room at the two banks. Farmers and retired men would make their way to one or both of these break rooms, drink a free cup of coffee or a cold Coke and share the latest news of the day. Some of them would even sit at one a while and then go over to the other to pass on what they had learned at the first site.

We walked into the bank lobby with me leading Pop by the arm and quietly speaking in his ear. We were standing in a teller line waiting to make his deposit when the bank President spotted us. He made a bee-line for us. Took one look at Pop and said, "Dick, what in the world happened to you?"

Pop did not change the expression on his face or take a moment to consider his response. He turned towards the bank President's voice and replied flatly, "My wife. My firewood. My business." Without any response, the bank President turned and hurried back to his office. Pop turned to me and quietly said, "That will be all over this town in 10 minutes."

I chuckled to myself and the thought of all of the flapping jaws in both bank break rooms as soon as they caught wind of the story. Pop made his bank deposit with me guiding his hand where to sign the deposit slip. He had me write a couple checks to pay bills with me again guiding his hand where to sign them.

When we arrived home, my Mom was standing in the driveway awaiting our arrival. As soon as Pop emerged from the truck, I could hear her question, "What on earth did you say at the bank?" We both busted out laughing. His 10-minute estimate has been pretty accurate. The story had gotten around town and a couple well meaning individuals had called the house to inquire with my Mom what was going on between her and Pop.

When people ask me where I acquired my sense of humor. I tell them I got it honest.

Happy Father's Day, Pop!

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