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An Original Tales From The Copy Center story.


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The Training Video
Tuesday, January 19, 1999   By: Br'er Juan

Watching a training video turns to mirth.

Br'er Juan stumbled into the copy center one morning last week. TheBoss Lady was waiting for him.

 "GoBackToTheEmployeeLoungeAndWatchMovieNumber10ThenGetBackHere. We'veGotToMakeThisHoobieThenGetOnToThatOne," she said. The Boss Lady is from New York and talks funny sometimes. "TheMovieWillTeachYouHowToLiftThings."

 Lift things, huh. Br'er Juan figured he knew far more about lifting than some videotape. After all, he'd trained under a master lifter, Mr. Henry Nelloms of Atlanta, Georgia. They'd loaded and unloaded steel together while Br'er Juan worked his way through college

 Mr. Henry was a wonderful man, who lived inside a richly dark, mahogany hide, but didn't know how long he'd lived there. Sometimes he told folks he was 80 – sometimes 75.  And he was a financial genius.

 Mr. Henry was one of the first to figure out how to make another man's trash into his own treasure. After working on the steel trucks for a full day, Mr. Henry would take his own truck to various liquor stores around Atlanta. The folks there paid him to haul away their cardboard cartons. He charged a little less than a garbage company, so the liquor store folks thought they were putting one over on him.

 The joke was on them. Mr. Henry had learned that a company in the suburbs would buy the old cardboard at twice the price he charged to haul it away. He made money on both ends.To power him through his long day, Mr. Henry's wife made lunch for him. Every morning she packed a pasteboard box full with two thermos jugs of coffee and 14 ham sandwiches. They were made with Merita light bread and were stuck together with generous helpings of Bama mayonnaise. Mr. Henry’s wife  had time to prepare this generous lunch because Mr. Henry didn't eat breakfast at home. He ate that at his girlfriend's.

 Mr. Henry always told Br'er Juan, "Keep your back straight, lift with your legs, and most important of all, keep your mouth shut so you can concentrate. Do that and you won't get hurt." 

Br'er Juan sat down in the employee lounge, untied his shoes, commandeered a cup of coffee in his right hand and the remote control in his left. Associate Ike popped in to watch the video along with Br'er Juan. He didn't know what he was getting into.

 The tape begins. Br'er Juan reverts to his days as a TV news producer. A fake news open, full of mid-80s clichés with lots of boxes moving across the screen - each containing the director's idea of "Big Time TV" stuff.  Stuff like a hand moving a fader on a switcher (like the hand moving the fader on the Grass Valley switcher in the Death Star in Star Wars Episode 4) or another hand moving a slider on an audio board or a camera trucking across a set. No people. And a terrible music opening.

Br'er Juan wakes up Ike by shouting, "How lame. I rejected that music package at Fox 30. I wonder if these weasels paid for it?"

 The tape plays on. "And what is this - a satellite truck. Office Depot has a sat truck and a dish garden."

 "I don't think so," says Ike, now wide awake.

 The open dissolves to - you guessed it - two perky anchors with whitewashed teeth telling Ike and Br'er Juan how wonderful it is they're joining them for this episode of "Office Depot Tonight." How original.

 As the anchors talk, Ike gets into it. "What is this? Their hands are all rubbing together and stuff." The anchors are indeed holding their hands at chest level and are rubbing them together. Br'er Juan can't listen to the audio - he's hunting the IFB button to tell them to stop.

 The camera turns to a one shot, then takes a double box for a fake live shot. The boxes are too small and the moving video in the live shot box is distracting, thinks Br'er Juan.

 "Oh, my God, did you see that?" Br'er Juan hits rewind.

 "What - huh, huh," asks Ike.

 "The video is panning in the live box, then when they take the live shot full, it's the same video all over again. What terrible editing."

 "I don't understand why they make us watch this stuff. It's terrible, man," whines Ike.

The tape rolls on. A fake reporter interviews a fake Office Depot associate about something to do with bar codes. Br'er Juan can't listen because he's too busy yelling at the fake reporter to stop waving the stick mic from the associate's mouth to hers.

 At the end of the live shot she goes - you guessed it - "Back to you."

 Br'er Juan goes "BACK to you. Back to YOU. Back TO you. Baaaaack to you," punching the table hunting that IFB button.

 Ike's all, "Huh, huh. Kewl."

 Br'er Juan and Ike miss the transition to the next section.

 The anchors have a couple of fake associates picking up something that must weigh  a whole 10 pounds. They have lapel mics - they talk all the way through the lift. "Huh," says Br'er Juan. “Mr. Henry.”

 The final segment has the perky girl anchor interviewing some goofy fake associate about something to do with UPC codes. At the end, she acts as though they are running out of time, cuts off the interview subject and - get this - turns to the wrong camera - and stays there. On a tape.

 Br'er Juan and Ike stood up laughing.

 A high-school-senior-blonde-cashier whose name tag last week read Lynn but this week reads Brianne walked into the lounge and asked Ike, "Did you enjoy watching that training video that much? I thought it would suck."

 "Yeah, man," answers Ike. "It was real funny and all, but you won't see the show I saw."

 Br'er Juan put the remote control back on the table for Lynn/Brianne to use - keeping his back straight and bending his knees. And most important, he kept his mouth shut while he did it. Mr. Henry would be proud.


Tales and Humor  

(c)1968- today j.e. simmons or michael warren