Saturday, September 7, 2013

Cone Head

There has been a terrible miscarriage of justice in the state of Oregon, which is one of the states Mr. Gary Schwirse was in when he tipped over and fell six feet onto a concrete ledge and injured himself. A federal appeals court has denied his claim to workers' compensation benefits. We should pay attention because this kind of thing could have happened to any one of us, or possibly just me.

Mr. Schwirse, a longshoreman, began his day first thing with a couple beers for Morning Mouth, and then went to work, where he consumed three more to take the edge off. He followed up at lunch with another five beers and eased into the afternoon shift with a pint of whiskey. It was during a well-earned attempt to pee over the dock railing at the end of his shift that he fell over the railing and onto the concrete ledge, fortunately landing on his head, which he wasn't using at the time. He demanded workers' comp when his coworkers variously reminded or informed him that he might have tripped over an orange safety cone.

It is a travesty that in this day and age employers are still allowed to get away with placing safety cones in the workplace, in spite of the known hazards. I have personally tripped over safety cones at least three times, and find them second in danger only to the random removal of known doors and hallways. Who among us has not been walking, deep in thought, and negotiated a tight right turn only to find that the door or hallway has been replaced by a wall?

Just me?

Well the safety cone thing is bad. There you are on a well-worn path to the room where the donuts are and there, for no reason, in an area previously occupied by air, is a safety cone. Someone has placed it there to mark the location of a patch of mopped floor that had evaporated hours ago, and down you go. The cones have proliferated along with the lawyers until now you are forced to constantly look where you're going, an activity that interferes with my rich inner life, and I say it's time we put an end to this nonsense.

Speaking of going, that is what Mr. Schwirse was doing when he did a header over the rail. This, at least, has never happened to me, as a mail carrier. At worst, I have only tipped over and rolled a few feet to the right. There might have been rhododendron damage.

When the judge failed to stand up for workers and rejected the claim that the safety cone had occasioned his injury, Mr. Schwirse's counsel suggested that the concrete was at fault, using the logic that his suffering would have been much less had the ledge been made of memory foam. The judge rejected this gambit, too.

Mr. Schwirse, who responsibly waited until the end of his shift to whiz off the edge of the dock, might have hurt his case somewhat by revealing that his job was to collect safety cones, which might lead some to believe he shared some of the blame by not noticing or collecting the one he tripped over. But the end of your shift is the end of your shift. Start picking up cones on your own time and before you know it you're on the road to losing Donut Day, and maybe your health benefits, too.

48 comments:

  1. I constantly have big bruises on my shoulders from where door jambs leap out and attack me. And safety cones would not help me.
    I cannot however understand why it is that the judge failed to acknowledge that the gentleman's injuries would have been reduced (perhaps completely) if he had fallen onto memory foam. Obviously a judge with no experience in the real world.

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    1. Dis is a guy who could fall into memory foam and forget how he got there.

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  2. Pootie has been having a bad day, it seems. It's those darn safety cones, isn't it? I assume that Mr. Schwirse will be appealing this unjust ruling. :-)

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    1. I haven't seen a picture, but I'll bet he's not at all appealing.

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  3. It's a slippery slope. Next thing you know, judges will be denying workmen's comp to the drunks who fall out of bed in the morning, unable to get to the worksite due to their impaired condition.

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    1. Man, it never occurred to me to try for that. More wasted years.

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  4. After ten beers and a pint of whiskey, he couldn't be expected to see a mere safety cone with all the pink elephants distracting him. For that matter, the safety cone was probably verbally taunting him to not be a wuss and lean further over the edge.

    Never mind interfering with that rich inner life -- it sounds like the proliferation of safety cones will actually force people to stay sober on the job. I thought such workplace brutality went out with the robber barons. They'll be hearing from the union about this.

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    1. Had to be a crummy union. Ours would have totally gotten him money for this.

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    2. And lest you get the wrong idea, I AM a union girl.

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  5. Look at that. Pootie didn't even mess his pants, surely unlike Mr. Schwirse in his header.

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  6. Isn't this a great country? Any asshole can sue anyone for anything, and the lawyers STILL get paid!

    I do love Pootie's hard hat. Clever you!

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    1. He has a bike helmet, too. We must protect all that lint.

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  7. Clearly the bar and the beer company should have to pay!

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  8. Okay - your sarcasm here is friggen hilarious.

    And also - I am thrilled his claim was denied. Drunken fool should not be rewarded for injuring himself!

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    1. I don't know for sure if he injured himself. He only landed on his head.

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  9. I NEED to get me a teddy and start dressing him up in egg poachers and cute as the dickens overalls. I think it might be just the stress reliever I need.

    Where was I? Oh yes, if you could get the younger folks - who communicate exclusively by texting - in on this case against safety cones, it would be a slam dunk. They NEVER look where they're going. Think of the numbers of them who must trip over the dang things.

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    1. I recommend it. And as a reminder--Pootie is a dog. He doesn't mind being mistaken for a bear, but he hates it when people think he's a bunny. Just a fair warning.

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    2. Duly noted - and please tell Pootie I have slapped myself silly AND taken a sensitivity course.

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    3. Pootie doesn't hold grudges. The lint takes up too much room.

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    4. How can we not simply love a fella like that? :)

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  10. Maybe he should sue his employer for allowing him to work in an impaired condition. Sheesh.

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    1. "You can't fire me! I didn't do anything!"

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  11. Where did this nimrod find an attorney stupid enough to take the case? Oh wait, they abound, don't they? Never mind.

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    1. I still think he had a chance with the safety cone thing. They is dangerous.

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  12. I'm with Roxie on the Pootie hard hat. ;-)
    And never mind the cones - why don't they install urinals?

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    1. Eww--I just reimagined my own workplace, and I didn't like it.

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  13. "...landing on his head, which he wasn't using at the time." Perfect!

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  14. He should have had the same lawyer as the guy who worked as a bear feeder at Great Bear Adventures. One morning, he decided to smoke all of the weed in his sock drawer before showing up for his job (ie, feeding bears - in this case, a grizzly bear). I guess the bear wasn't amused at being offered a bag of gummy bears instead of his preferred side of beef because he bit off a cheek off the feeder's behind. The court awarded the half-assed doper $65k to cover his medical expenses (with presumably enough left over for a couple of joints).


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    1. I quit reading after "bit off a cheek." Sometimes I get overcome by the visuals.

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    2. Huh. I always wondered where the term "half-assed" came from. The things you learn!

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  15. Peeing apparently is extremely dangerous. I will have to remember that.

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    1. It's less dangerous for us. I've only fallen off a toilet once, and I don't really remember much about that evening.

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  16. To err is human. Only solution is to quit hiring them.

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    1. That's the solution the post office has gone to. The mail service has gone to crap, but there's nobody to complain to.

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  17. Peeing over the rail? Look out below! Oh wait, it was only six feet. How tall is this guy? He probably didn't fall all that far.

    Pootie looks so cute.

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    1. Shh! He does. He think's he's manly though.

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  18. Mr. Schwirse should be very grateful that you wrote this post. If I hadn't been laughing so hard, I would have burst a blood vessel in my brain from sheer outrage. And then I'd have to sue the bastard.

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    1. I think various episodes of sheer outrage did burst a vessel in my brain, and now everything is funny again.

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  19. And I thought global warming was the big danger!
    the Ol'Buzzard

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    1. Keep thinking that, darling--I got plenty to say about that. As y'all know.

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  20. That is one cold hearted judge! I wonder what he wears under that robe?

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    1. Just out of curiosity--not that there's anything wrong with it--do you usually wonder what judges wear under their robes?

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  21. Hey Murr! Words fail me. Only in America. Indigo x

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    1. I don't believe it. Words never fail you!

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