Basic Manual Speech 4:
"These are the times that try men's souls." That memorable quote aptly described our conflict last year. More than a battle, it was war! Total war! The KSC Office of Safety and Environmental Health had declared a center-wide "Office Clean-Up" D-Day. The timing could hardly have been better for the Payload Engineering Platoon. We had just mobilized to a strategic region of the O&C Building, and the last battalion to evacuate the area had failed miserably in cleaning up after themselves.
Show What You Mean
Immediately upon our landing, I discovered that I had to operate a GSA backhoe to excavate five tons of useless documents just to move into my own cubicle. To add insult to injury, there were bookcases the size of sheer cliffs stacked five stories high with obsolete documents. Finally, we found an acre-sized dump filled with toxic waste known as "DOS 1.0 Software". To top it all, the ISO 9000 generals were due to arrive in just a few days for a routine inspection. Our entire division cringed in terror at the thought of being summarily executed without trial for failing the ISO 9000 audit. Dark tales of dungeons filled with irate auditors performing "Death by a Thousand Paper Cuts" made us toss and turn at night.
The situation called for people of iron will and stamina, people not afraid to crack a few eggs to make an omelette. I volunteered to take the lead on cleaning the office. "No!", my wife cried, "Don't do it! I might never see you again!" "My love," I replied, "it's my sworn and bound duty to uphold the integrity and honor of this fine steed called 'The American Space Program.'" Our commander helped me round up the supplies I needed: blasting caps, granite drills, dynamite sticks, flamethrowers, steam shovels, dump trucks, and a brave young private named
We donned our flame-retardant coveralls and high-temperature goggles and went to work. After we got the all-clear from the Safety officer, we drilled holes in critical fracture points on the bookcase sheer cliffs and the shuddering software piles and planted the explosive charges. Then, the worst happened--sabotage! Someone had unplugged the wires to our charges on the sheer cliffs, breaking the circuit. Our courageous intern took the initiative and scaled the walls to reconnect the wires. As she made her way to her target, a sniper fired a round of paper clips into her shoulder. Wounded, she bravely continued her climb while our backup troops isolated and identified the assailant. The offender, lo and behold, turned out to be one of our own! After a platoon sharpshooter mortally wounded him with a spitball, the sniper confessed that he was a sympathizer with our enemies, the Mediocrities, and despised the ISO
Borowski completed her mission and returned to ground station zero. We detonated the charges and reduced the documentation to rubble. We had to act quickly. The ISO 9000 generals were arriving the next day! We used every available dump truck, forklift, caterpillar tractor, and backhoe and excavated and heaved load after load of obsolete documents, unused furniture, and outdated software to a huge bonfire. There the rubble burned in a fire the size of a skyscraper, and we roasted marshmallows
and hotdogs and the remains of the sniper all night long.
With leafblowers, brooms, floor scrubbers, and firehoses in hand, we cleaned the remaining debris and made the place amenable to the ISO 9000 auditors.
The ISO 9000 generals arrived on shore the next day. They surveyed our spotless camp and said nothing. We were all tense, speechless, and holding our breath. You could hear a pin drop. Finally, the head general bellowed, "How the hell do you expect to get any work done in a place as
clean as this?!" They passed us with flying colors!
After the ISO 9000 generals departed, we held a big bash complete with Bob Hope and the whole USO gang. As a result of our diligent efforts, Private Borowski and I each received a handsome plaque like this one, which hangs on my wall to this day.
Remember, ISO 9000 rules all. Don't be afraid to torch those unused mountains of paper. Instead, muster your courage, strengthen your spine, purify your might, and scream "No!" to clutter at the top of your lungs!