Safe or Sorry

By Kit Goldman, President of Workplace Training Network, Inc.

Art: Shipping Dept. supervisor at a fictional company
Dottie: His administrative assistant
Vito: A lead on his crew

SCENE: Art’s office. He’s on the phone.

A: (on the phone)…what’s that pal?…you’re right, I am stressed-out. Why? Well, let’s see. My mother in law’s in week 4 of her one week visit….why? Who knows?… Probably to help Yolanda and the girls train for the Olympic speed shopping event. Then yesterday, I find out Arturo Jr. ‘s giving up soccer and starting ballet. Plus he needs more braces then the Golden Gate Bridge. You know how much money we’re talking?…that’s right, man. You know that old saying “The harder I work behinder I get”?…Well, now you do. Story of my life….what?….gee, thanks for asking. I’m not depressed enough. You had to bring up the forklift accident…huh?…who said that?…no…no…no, that’s not what happened! First of all, the guy’s a new hire. Said he knew what he was doing. I believed him. We’re way behind, so I put him on the floor right away. Figured I’d deal with the formalities — training, paperwork nonsense – later… you got it. Only so many hours in the day. So what does he do? Runs the forklift into a ladder. Big Lou’s on it. Good thing he lost all that weight. At least now he bounces. (Dotty enters, urgently points to her watch, he waves her off)…huh?….yeah, really messed up Louie’s legs and back. He’s worked here forever, everyone loves him– hey, I love the guy – put the whole warehouse in an uproar. Nothing’s getting done. There’s even talk of a “slow down”….yeah, and all this while the powers-that-be are on the warpath about workman’s comp costs…yeah, and the idiot says the forklift wasn’t working right and his vision was obstructed by some shipments….I don’t know, I haven’t had time to check it out yet!… (To Dotty) WHAT? ….

D: …(urgently) Our meeting… with the Safety Director and Risk Management. It’s now…..

A: (to Dotty)…I know. Don’t get your knickers in a twist… (on phone) not your knickers, Ernie! What?…the new guy?… (sarcastic) got an “owie” because he wasn’t wearing his safety belt…. So now he’s shuffling paper til his “boo boo’s” better…yeah… so I’m short 2 guys and so far behind I’m about to lap myself! (Dotty persists)…hey, pal, better go. Someone’s here….

D: “Someone”? (leans over, shouts into phone) It’s me, Ernie! Trying to save your buddy’s sorry, ungrateful heinie once again….

A: (To Dotty a la Jackie Gleason) One of these days, Alice!… (On phone) OK, Ernie. Keep the faith….no, count me out for the game. I got stuff to deal with… (Hangs up. Sits there, head in hands)

D: (Moves to him) Come on! Up, up, up! We’re already 3 minutes late! (moves to door) I’ll let them know we’re on our way…

A: No, no, no. Don’t do that. Look, I’ve got too much going on here. This is a bad time. Tell them we need to postpone….

D: What? You’re kidding, right? We already postponed and they really didn’t like it.

A: What do they want me to do? Ship our orders or do post-mortems with the suits?

D: After what happened with Louie, I think post-mortems with the suits. Art, can I ask you something?

A: Do I have a choice?

D: No. How long have I worked for you?

A: Let’s see, when was the last ice age?

D: Everyone’s a comedian. 12 long years. And in those 12 years, how many times would you say I’ve pulled your sizzling fat out of the fire?

A: Why do you have to go and bring up my fat?

D: Still he jokes. (increasingly intense) You know what, Art? What happened to Louie’s no joke. It’s serious, For Louie. For the company. For you. Do the words “agent of the corporation” mean anything to you? You’re one of the people responsible for safety around here. If God forbid OSHA gets involved, we could catch some serious hell. We might dodge the bullet this time, but (increasingly dramatic) we need to sit down with the Safety folks, figure out what we need to do so it doesn’t happen again and maybe end up tragic….

A: Calm down, mija. Don’t have a heart attack in my office. I don’t know if the new HMO will cover it…(he laughs, she doesn’t)

D: …more jokes. Art, listen to me. Postponing again makes it look like you don’t think it’s serious.

A: Of course I know it’s serious. It’s terrible. I visited Big Lou at the hospital. He knows I’m there for him. I called Julia, told her if she or the kids need anything, I’m there. What do I need to do? Walk through the warehouse flagellating myself with a palm frond?

D: You can’t be a no show again. There’s too much at stake.

A: Come on, Dotty. So we re-schedule. What’s the big deal? I’ve been here 15 years. What do you think they’re going to do? Fire me?

D: I think that’s a distinct possibility, yes. And I’ll be the collateral damage. (hysterical) That scares me, Art. I’m too old to pound the pavement and too poor to retire. They just raised my rent. I’ve got 2 girls in college – apparently for life! Why did I buy that new car? I’m stupid, stupid, stupid….

A: Calm down! I do not need this…

D: Darn right you don’t! Not unless you’ve got resources I don’t know about!

A: You know I don’t. Maybe that’s why I don’t want to go. Afraid if I get in a room with them, they’ll ax me on the spot ….

(Vito storms in unexpectedly)

V: Art, I gotta talk to you.

D: And what am I? Invisible chopped liver?

V: Sorry. Hello, Dotty. How are ya?

D: On my way out… with Art…. to meet with the Safety director and Risk Management. Thank you for asking. Ready boss? (to Vito) Sorry, Vito. Gotta go. (to Art) Now.

V: Well, maybe I’ll go too. We’ll go together. Skip down the yellow brick road to see the wizard. Maybe he can get me the 2 new guys I’ve been asking for.

A: You want a piece of me, too? Get in line.

V: Hey, yo…, we’re on the same side here. But Art, things are falling apart! You’re up here where….look, morale on the floor’s at minus zero! The warehouse is backed up like a cheap toilet. Everyone’s mad about what happened to Big Lou. Me included! Coulda happened to anyone. Safety on the floor’s a bad joke. No one’s thinking about work, they’re too busy worrying about who’s gonna hit the deck next, even worse then Lou….

D: Tell him, Vito. He doesn’t hear me.

A: Why are they so worried? One accident and everyone’s freaked out… .

V: One? Two months ago, Habib’s foot was compressed when those baggy pants of his got caught in the palletizer. Then Flo wrenched her back lifting a crate. And don’t forget Roberto and that leaky container from that shipment of new chemicals. Never found out what it was, but he sure got a helluva rash…

A: Whoa…hit the brakes….time out….TMI: too much information….

V: And that 3 cheeses short of a 4-cheese lasagna mamalouke that knocked Louie down is screwing up the paperwork bad. Customers are screaming. Louie’s buddies are threatening to run the knucklehead through the bandsaw. It’s the Jerry-freakin’-Springer show out there, Artie. Ugly, getting uglier. If you don’t do something….

A: Alright already! I know! I’ve got to do something. And if I…knew what it was…I would do it. But I don’t. I need help, OK? (to audience) OK people, Group hug! (Interacts with audience to assess and resolve problems)

Scene 2

Art: Supervisor from scene 1
Dotty: His assistant from scene 1
Vito: Lead from scene 1
Hugh R. Toast: The man from OSHA
Lou: An injured worker

SCENE: Back at Art’s office after the meeting

D: Well. “The Titanic” was a laugh a minute compared to that.

A: Come on. It could have been worse. Not sure how…(Hugh R. Toast from OSHA enters, carrying a thick stack of documents)

H: Good morning! Hugh R. Toast from OSHA . (warm, friendly, oily. Dotty obviously finds him attractive, flirts outrageously) Good morning. I’m looking for (checks document) Arturo Hernandez.

A: That’s me. Why? (laughs nervously) You one of those Ed McMahon batos here to give me my million?

H: (Laughs) You’re a funny guy. And…(checks document. To Dotty) Dorothy Dribblemore?

A: (flirtacious) Guilty. And you are….?

H: Mr. Right. Heard you were lookin’ for me! (she giggles) Not! I’m “The Man from OSHA”. MFO for short. You’re under investigation. (Hands them documents) Here’s a list of the documents I’ll need. I’ll take a look around while you round them up. (starts to exit) Oh…you’ve got one hour. (exits)

(They stare at docs in stunned disbelief. Dotty exits in mounting hysteria)

A: (Watches Dotty leave, pause, shift to more serious tone. Speaks to audience as puts on coat, tie) Anyway, that’s what went down after the accident. It’s been a month since OSHA started their inquisition…..I mean investigation. Turns out Big Lou was hurt worse than I thought. The last month I thought a lot about what went wrong. Stuff I should have thought of before. 20-20 hindsight, huh? Instead of communicating with the crew about safety issues, you know — informing them, training them right, making sure they complied, I’d get angry, yell. They’d just tune me out. I got so busy I let inspections and maintenance slide. Should have been a priority. Remember the line from that old Bob Seger song — “Wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then”? Been in my head all day. Probably ‘cause today’s my day to be grilled and skewered by OSHA. Wish me luck.

(Art moves to waiting area of office where OSHA interviews are taking place. Vito and “Big Lou” in neck brace, crutches, head bandage are there. They glare at him)

A: So….Lou. Lou, Lou, Lou. Jeez. Still on crutches. Sorry man. Julia told you I called, right? I told her to let you know I was there for you, man. She tell you?L: There for me? When? Not the day that Bozo went NASCAR with the forkliftV: Had a mind of it’s own. That’s what he said about the forklift. At least it HAD a mind.

A: Come on, Vito. Lou. It’s not like that. (to Lou) But you’re feeling better, right.

L: What are you smoking, Artie? Who looks like this when they’re feeling better?

A: Jeez, I’m sorry. (Looks at Dotty. She shoots daggers) You been in yet?

D: No. Didn’t have thumb screws my size. They’re being delivered.

H: (emerges, extends hand to Art) Mr. Hernandez? (sinister) I’m ready for you now.

(Art looks to group in waiting room for support. Everyone glares. He exits)

©This script is the copyrighted intellectual property of Workplace Training Network and may not be used for any purpose without the express permission of WTN, La Mesa CA