In this time of turmoil and division, we offer something to bring us together: Rockbottum Storytime.
Thirty years ago, Buddy began to wonder which mask was more effective. Was it the common dust mask? The surgical mask? Or perhaps the trusty bandanna? It had nothing to do with spraying or virus prevention or looking cool, it was entirely due to Buddy's office trouble. Located next to the crew restroom, Buddy's office was plagued with sudden waves of a malodorous stench capable of penetrating his blood/brain barrier.
The crew restroom required a daily decontamination scrubdown, using the same equipment favored by military units responding to a nuclear, biological or chemical incident. I always avoided the crew restroom, choosing instead a shovel and a hike into the forest. (To avoid my blood/brain barrier thingy getting penetrated.)
Buddy filed a formal fetid aroma complaint with the county Physical Plant engineers, but they saw nothing unusual with Buddy's dilemma, as they had both served a tour of duty in the Sewer Department. They did offer to look the other way if Buddy performed a covert ceiling fan installation. As there was no actual ceiling--that would have necessitated fire suppression sprinklers to meet code--Buddy took the engineer's suggestion to mean he could cut a hole in the exterior wall. He quickly installed a standard small bathroom fan that vented directly outside.
The tiny fan was a complete failure, due to the crew's steady diet of spicy, greasy food and Buddy's hyper-sensitive olfactory nerves. Citing oxygen deprivation, Buddy kept the big shop doors open all day, regardless of outside temperatures, while running a large blower. He also saturated the shop with Pine Sol and perfume stolen from Esmarelda's Beauty Salon. Nothing helped.
Next, Buddy tried padlocking the restroom, but Bertram, a rather large stinkard who only bathed on a quarterly basis, threatened to substitute Buddy's desk for the off limits facility, forcing immediate capitulation.
Later that day, Buddy rushed into my office with tears in his eyes, yelling, "Shooey, shooey, shooey! It's the worst ever! Now I'm blind in one eye!"
Without telling Buddy my sense of smell was non-operational due to years of spraying without a respirator and exposure to construction site porta-commodes, I investigated the restroom and pronounced it safe. (Kind of like the FDA does now.) Buddy began to howl like a coonhound in the back of the night. "It's not just the smell, I can taste it!"
I became indignant--a defense mechanism I learned from watching guilty career politicians--and ordered Buddy to just fix the problem and leave me alone with my crossword puzzles. He left in my truck and returned from a visit to County Equipment Surplus with a giant fan the size of a C-130 propeller. He then cut a massive hole in the thin metal wall and wedged the propeller in, covering it with a steel screen. The fan's electric motor was too weak for Buddy, so he went back to surplus and found a motor I suspected had been used to power a gun turret on a battleship. That motor kept tripping the breakers until Buddy replaced them with breakers that came from the Chevrolet factory up the road. He also wired in a remote switch in his office, to deal with inconsiderate restroom users.
The crew complained bitterly, claiming it was like trying to stand in a wind tunnel. (It affected their aim.) Buddy suggested they simply lead the target, like in skeet shooting, but Bertram said that was impossible while seated.
Dud Duncan said the fan was so loud that he couldn't concentrate on the task at hand and the mesh screen allowed voyeurs (golfers. cart boys and range pickers) to observe the restroom occupant and make rude comments on the performance. Buddy argued that no onlooker could stand in the high velocity stinkifyin' emitted by the fan's exhaust port and survive, although the neighborhood dogs seemed to enjoy it.
When the fan was operating, the building shook like a jet doing a runup prior to takeoff. Loose items like dirt, paper and mice were routinely sucked across the floor and into Buddy's restroom typhoon. Oh, sure, there were negative aspects, too, but in light of the improved oxygen levels and the neutralization of Bertram's moldy presence, Buddy declared it "Mission Accomplished!"
He might have gotten away with it, but he went a Bridge Too Far by adding sound effects to the restroom. His favorite was the sound of a man straining to perform a heavy deadlift. A county inspector saw no humor in Buddy's Restroom Wind Tunnel Ride and wrote us up for several violations, the most serious being "Failure to provide a safe restroom environment." I still think it was because she was from some Ivy League school up North.
Buddy reluctantly removed the monster fan and eventually gave up on deodorizers, dust masks, bandannas and surgical masks. He spent his last years in golf marinating in bad air, wearing a full face respirator at his desk. It certainly wasn't as fashionable as today's masks, but it did reduce the volume of unscheduled visitors.