Snakes and Pills

024 - carry on

"Jam in the two by four chute!"

"Jam in the two by four chute!" The call echoed down the line. In addition to the verbal confirmations, a large red light began pulsing on and off, alerting the man in the control booth to the fact that there was a problem.

That man was Martin Seaboyer, and the name badge he wore at his waist identified him as such. His picture was that of a balding, slightly-overweight man who was past his prime. There was something of a forced smile on the badge's photograph, a habit that he had developed for whenever he was faced towards a camera lens. But that face betrayed a certain amount of fatigue, as well.

This was not the job Martin had pined for in his youth. It wasn't a job that anyone pined for. Line supervisor at Allied Amusement. Making sure that his company's generic Lego-like building bricks were manufactured, packaged, and shipped without incident.

And now there was an incident. "That damn hopper is always trying to jam too many of them down the chute at one time, somebody really ought to fix the spacing cogs," he muttered to himself. Spacing cogs had become a major thing on his mind, something that bothered him more than he'd like. A part of him knew it was ludicrous, to be consumed by something so insignificant, yet he still couldn't help but focus on how much easier his job might be if someone would just fix the cogs.

He pressed the intercom button that was connected to his maintenance man for this line. "Mark, we've got a problem." No reply. "Mark, ya there?" he said as he held it down again. The red light continued to pulse, but no reply came from the box marked maintenance. "Son of a bitch." Martin leaned out of his booth, and called down to John, one of the workers on the production line.

"John!" "Yeah boss?" "You seen Mark?" "Went out for a smoke." "Sonovabitch."

Martin descended the iron steps that led from his control booth down to the line. He got to the hopper in question, which was full of white plastic two by four building blocks. "Somebody's gotta take care of this problem," he thought to himself as he popped the top hatch open.

This wasn't a job Martin was trained to do, but as line supervisor, he felt it was his duty to get his line moving again. He had done it a few times before when his maintenance man had been busy, and so he reached into the bin to unclog the jam with no trepidation. This time, though, he had forgotten to disengage the gears that powered the heavy metallic cogs.

He removed the obstruction. The cogs began to move again. The plastic two by four building bricks began to trickle down the chute again. They were red.


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