in which mr. john continues the story of the summer job that tried to kill him

Some of the most popular videos on Americas Funniest Home Videos and Ridiculousness are men getting their genitals punched, kicked, or otherwise attacked. Friends, I share this story with love. At the time, though, it wasn’t quite as funny. No one wants a detachable penis.

I am continuing this story.

After spending my summer healing and having a blast, I was ready to go back to work. There were only a few weeks left until school started, but I wanted to make an appearance and finish out the summer on a good note.

A Sad Homecoming

Tree Topping
Hoisting the tree and the flag for a Tree Topping

When I arrived at the job site, I was surprised to see that the rough construction was almost complete. A tree topping ceremony had been done, which meant the very top of the building had a large undecorated Christmas tree and a huge American Flag. The High-Rise Construction workers were tearing down their unneeded equipment, building materials, and tools in preparation for crews that handle the rough framing of the interior of the building. The crane atop the structure was constantly replacing heavy materials and equipment from the roof for items more suitable for the subsequent phase of the job.

Risky Business

Crane on Roof
A rooftop crane used in our story; the operator is sitting in the room located on the mast.

This process was not trivial and quite risky, a well-choreographed procedure. Here is a quick run-through:

On the ground, I was the rigger. I laid out heavy hoist chains in a cross pattern, and forklift operator dropped the load on top of my chains. The foreman with a microphone guided the crane operator (in a tiny room on the crane) to lower the crane hook to the load. “Crane Down.” 

Example Load
An example of the wood that was going up. This stack was about 7 feet tall.

The Foreman shared the progress, via a series of loudspeakers to the job site. I would loop each chain over the Crane hook, often climbing up the load to reach, then jump off, and the Foreman would announce, “Crane up”. When workers on the building’s roof did the reverse, unneeded materials were sent down, which I unhooked. They were then taken away by the forklift.

I was instructed, “Do not twist the chains, do not knot the chains, or someone (likely me) could get killed.” Crane rigging was a serious business. You needed to be tall, strong, and quick on your feet.

And now for the part we have been waiting for

The Crane Hook
A seriously heavy crane hook.

Now finally, the story. August in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is hot. To compound matters, job sites like mine were set atop pure white sand, which reflected the heat making the ground as hot as hell. Five minutes of work and you’d be soaked and dripping with sweat.

A quick note about my attire. In the seventies, bell-bottom hip huggers were a distinct fashion choice, especially among burnouts, stoners, and hippies. They were extremely low at the waist and super tight, and the extreme heat forced me to “go commando”.

Hip Huggers, I wore mine sans belt. Extra credit if you can guess whose famous crotch this is.

Doing the same thing for hours on end leads to boredom and complacency. Chance saw a crack in my vigilance and launched an attack upon my groin.

I clambered up my next stack of wood and clipped up the chain. I had to tippy toe it, almost jumping to get the clip on. When I turned to jump off, the Foreman yelled, “Crane up”, the chains tightened, and before I could actually jump, the entire load started to lift off the ground, myself included. 

The Foreman yelled out over the microphone “Stop the Crane!”, but by that time I was about twenty feet up in the air. The Crane stopped.  The Foreman followed up with, “Lower the Crane, SLOWLY”, which to the Crane Operator meant, let the crane free fall for ten feet then slam on the brakes.

Being dropped so hard caused me to lose the fragile grip I had on the load, and I fell, only I didn’t.  Seems that as I was trying to get the chain rigged, I caught some of my pants, pubes and man flesh between the load and the chain, so instead of falling, I splayed out backwards,  arms thrown out like some twisted caricature of Jesus on the cross, held there only by my crotch.

The rendering on the right shows where I was pinned. The top one was the waist band of my pants; the middle was the “lower pubic triangle” (just above Mr. John junior). That one had caught a decent amount of skin as well some flesh of the patch. The bottom one was “the boys”. Another decent amount of leg flesh got pinned along with just enough of the erm… boys “sack”  to cause great pain and alarm that my gennies would remain on the crane as I fell to my death.

Artist’s Rendering of the Cranes vicious attack

At this point the Foreman exclaimed, over the loudspeaker system, which if you recall, is in the center of Downtown Hollywood, “Oh My God the kid has his dick caught on the crane! ” For the remainder of the proceedings, his microphone remained open, so everyone was able to ‘enjoy’ my predicament.

Now back to my problem. I was stuck. There was nothing to grab onto, nowhere to go but down.  When the button snapped on my pants, everything stopped for me. Warm blood mixed with sweat as I heard my zipper unzip.  Intense pain followed as my pants gave up under the pressure and fell from my body allowing my bare-assed self to fall spread eagle to the ground. When it’s hot, you bleed.  A small cut will bleed like you’ve severed a small artery, and this was no exception. It was messy.

Instinctively my hands clutched at my privates and I investigated the damage. Balls; check. Dick; check. I looked up at the Foreman and found he had been joined by my dad who had rushed down expecting a castrated son. 

As I lay on the hot sand, nude save my work boots, the foreman asked, “Are you OK??!”  Shaken, and at an age where my voice was still cracking, in a falsetto voice I squeaked, “I’m OK!” Men nearby took to gagging and the foreman was horrified. Considering the horrors that are often seen on jobsites, this was quite an achievement.

Not the Balls!

Realizing I was unharmed and intact I started laughing my ass off.

The Aftermath

Own It!

I learned that day that if you do something fucked up. Own it. I stood up nude and bloody. My father gave me a disgusted look and handed me his toolbelt which I used to provide a modicum of modesty. I was sent to the first aid trailer where the twig and berries were examined, cleaned, and bandaged.

I emerged still nude but with my penis and testicles wrapped in gauze like a sad pink mummy. Awaiting me were The Foreman, my Father, and the General Manager of the job. I was handed my final paycheck and suggested I go home for the rest of the summer.

I drove home dreading the dressing down I expected from my Father. Arriving home, I grabbed a six pack and went to my shed. I reckon I was in into the third beer when my Dad walked in sporting a very stern look.

“I was just fired too.”

Fuck.

He smiled and explained, the job was closing anyway so it was no big deal, his job was done there anyway. He went to the union hall and got another assignment. He also mentioned that he heard men talking about a boy that got his dick ripped off on a jobsite.

“Fuck you”, I said tossing him a beer. Looking back on it this was the best laugh we ever shared.

King Missile – Detachable Penis

“I took it home and washed it off”

About the Author

The Orchid Thief

John Edward Laroche (born February 19, 1962, in Florida) is an American horticulturist who was arrested for poaching wild ghost orchids while working for the Seminole natives in the Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve in Florida. The subsequent trial brought him to the attention of Susan Orlean, who wrote an article for The New Yorker and the book The Orchid Thief about him. After the events of the Orchid Thief, he shifted careers to Computer Science. Notably, he went on to work for both National Geographic and the Smithsonian Institution designing school-age learning tools and online curricula.

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