“Man, we knocked this lot out quick!” he thought to himself, looking up after the concluding push of the shovel. Turning towards his co-worker, Pete caught the tail end of his favorite human activity to witness: unexpected sharp pain–albeit temporary–caused by extreme focus on less important things. In other words, he just watched his buddy nearly knock himself out as he hit his head on a post that intense shoveling had hidden from sight.
As if physical touch could heal all wounds, Pete kept a constant hand on the man’s shoulder while laughing and asked, “Oh man. Are you okay? You really hit that thing hard.”
“Stop laughing man,” the third worker on the project admonished, shaking his head.
“It’s okay,” the injured man said, still not himself. “It’s not my head, but my cheek. My mouth was open and I bit my cheek really hard. Ahh!..shit,” he let out, trying to maintain his man card.
His fingertips still in contact with the wounded man, Pete nearly doubled over with a guffaw that revealed itself to be only the engine of a freight train carrying mankind’s most precious cargo–uncontrollable giggling.
“Jesus Pete!” the third man again chimed in, attempting to add some reasonableness to the situation.
“You don’t…giggle…understand,” Pete managed. “Watching that happen was like seeing a double rainbow. I can’t let social graces ruin this moment! Teehee. He almost knocked himself out and bit his cheek. Man…hahaha…I wish I could’ve seen him when his mouth opened. It was probably all the way. BwaHAAhahaha! Don’t tell me you’ve never noticed that when people bite their tongue or cheek their mouths open to the extreme. It’s like upon chomping down the body screams to the mouth, ‘OPEN!! Open, open, open! Disregard any other thoughts; just open to your widest. Now! And whatever you do, don’t bite down again until we can fully assess the damage.'”
After he had finished his defense, as one they asked, “What’s wrong with you?”
The three men sat, legs dangling over the unfinished building’s ledge. It was lunchtime. Diaz opened his lunch to discover a burrito waiting for consumption. He lamented to his friends O’Shay and Jones, “Man, I hate burritos. Everyday I open up my lunch, and everyday there is a burrito. In fact, I hate burritos so much that if I find a burrito in this thing tomorrow, I’m jumping off.” Surprisingly, this little rant did not rattle O’Shay and Jones.
O’Shay opened his lunch next. Dejected, he cried, “Are you kiddin’ me? Corned beef and cabbage?! Again? I’m with you Diaz. If I find this in my lunch tomorrow, I’m jumping off.”
Smiling happily, Jones unwrapped his lunch. It was a bologna sandwich on white bread. “I can’t believe it. How many years have I been eating bologna on white bread? I’m with you fellas. Tomorrow, if this is in my lunch again, I’m jumping.”
The next day, the lunch buzzer sounded and the three men went to the edge of the building to eat. Always first to go, Diaz opened his lunch. A burrito. “Well guys. My word is my bond. I said I’d jump, so I’m jumping.” O’Shay and Jones didn’t talk much after that, instead they occupied themselves with their meals. Upon opening his lunch, O’Shay looked resignedly into Jones eyes and said, “Well Jones, I hope you have more luck than us. I’m staring at corned beef and cabbage, yet again. It’s time.” And off the ledge he went. On his own now, Jones went about opening his lunch as normal. “I guess I should have seen this coming,” he said. “Bologna on white bread. Diaz…O’Shay…wherever you are, it looks like you don’t have to wait long to see me again.” And off the ledge he went.
Their wives decided to combine the three funerals into one since the guys were nearly inseparable while alive. It was a nice service. Brief, but nice.
Now, the wives heard through the grapevine what other construction workers had overheard their husbands say. Diaz’s wife spoke up first. “If only he would have told me he didn’t want anymore burritos, I would’ve made him something else.” Next was O’Shay’s wife. “I know what you mean. He had never complained about his lunch before. If I would have known he was sick of corned beef and cabbage, I would’ve made him something else.” The two women looked inquisitively into Jones’ wife’s eyes. Did she have the same remorse? The same guilt? Barely able to find the space between sobs to squeeze out the words, she finally said, “He packed his own lunch!”
At first the accusation stung, but he was too resilient to let it bother him for long. What with everyone else committing the same error, he didn’t feel that bad for projecting.