Now before you become unduly indignant or, if you live in Weaverville, decide never again to visit me at my office, please know that anything I share here, I do with permission (grudgingly or otherwise). Besides, the names and circumstances surrounding these events have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent. Like the story of 'Franz,' the morgue worker.
STORY #1: FRANZ AND THE GURNEY FROM HELL
I was in the process of hacking out an email I'd been avoiding for a couple days when I overheard 'Franz,' in the lounge chair behind me, recounting to his friend 'Vladic' a tale of humor and woe.
It seems that our story began when Franz, employed by a morgue and having successfully taken a certain nameless corpse to an x-ray appointment, began to exit the x-ray establishment. Wheeling said corpse back out of the building towards the waiting hearse, Franz shared his sense of sudden foreboding as he struggled to get the legs of the collapsable gurney to fold up for re-transport to the morgue. "They wouldn't," he said. This produced frustration. "So I kicked the wheels," Franz continued.
At this point in the story, Vladic revealed some measure of mutual frustration by grunting with understanding. He too, apparently, was well-acquainted with the troublesome nature of corpe-carrying morgue gurneys. Shielded from view and still pretending to type, I raised an eyebrow.
"But that's just how that gurney was," Franz appealed, to no jury in particular-- "I was always having to kick it to get it to function properly."
"Of course," encouraged Vladic. I stared with concentration at the blinking cursor on my screen in order to keep from nodding my head in thoughtless agreement. 'Of course' I echoed in head.
"Then what happened?" Vladic prompted. 'Yes, yes' my head again echoed.
"Well," said Franz, "normally, kicking it worked." This time, however, it seemed to have worked overly well. With a deafening crash, the gurney responded to Franz' karate kick by slamming into the back of the hearse, rebounding slightly back towards him, and then dropping like a stone to the concrete below... body bag in tow. Grabbing frantically at the entire collapsing assembly in a vain attempt to save the day, Franz succeeded only in witnessing human flight of an unwanted sort as the body bag fulfilled Newtons third law of motion, bouncing back towards the heavens with an awkward sort of grace. Mercifully, when its maiden flight had ended, the corpse settled back onto the gurney.
It was at this point in his story, as an incredulous gasp escaped my lips, that the eyes of Franz and Vladic swiveled my way, and I knew the jig was up. Franz, however, clearly unfazed by my now obvious eavesdropping, welcomed his new audience and continued without missing a beat. "That was bad," he said, "but it got worse..." His little gurney adventure had taken place in a public parking lot and, instinctively, he'd glanced around to assess how much trouble he would be in. That's when he saw the old lady from the building next door, leaning against a back wall on a smoke break and staring, one cigarette-clutching hand frozen halfway to her opened mouth. "I was frazzled," Franz reminisced, "but she looked worse." Which is why Franz then looked at the lady and uttered absolutely the only thing that would come into his head: "If we had the right equipment, stuff like this wouldn't happen."
Through what I am sure are unrelated events, Franz no longer works at the morgue.