Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Forklift Rodeo, the Finale

Your blogger with Lamar Nelson, Forklift Rodeo Mastermind, Historian, Archeologist and Archivist

The course.
(Note: this was meant to be posted last night, but airlines delays got us home too late.)
Last night in the fragrant southern evening, swooning by the Mahonia (an evergreen shrub with dark blue berries named for the horticulturalist Bernard McMahan who introduced the plant from the Lewis and Clark expedition), amid my cousin’s woodland hellebores, we espied the holes of voles. Or moles. The more you try to distinguish between moles and voles, the more confusing it becomes. (Yes, I know the obvious answer.)
A little research leads me to believe the aforementioned must be voles, because moles are semi-aquatic, quasi-blind mammals that subsist mostly on earthworms, while voles are rodents sometimes called meadow mice and their diet consists of the roots of all the plants you especially like in your garden, and Douglas fir needles.

This morning we debouched from the Hampton Inn, situated snugly between Denny’s and Arby’s on Route 85 and just across from the worldwide headquarters of Cryovac, the Sealed Air Corporation, and headed back to the Forklift Rodeo for the nail-biting finale.
We are once again in the sunshine, gathered behind the Traffic Center at Leigh Fibers; on two sides we are sheltered by a copse of long-needle pines planted 50 years ago by Lamar’s father. A freight train rattles past the ridge just on the other side of the pines.

In the world at large the Polish president’s twin brother is overcoming his grief in order to take over his brother’s perch atop the Polish government; this will be a boon to geneticists as well as writers of international & political intrigue. In Malta they are debating whether or not to remove a certain vertical sculpture deemed to be potentially offensive to the Pope, as it would be almost the first thing he would see upon landing at the Malta International Airport in Luqa. In Italy they are celebrating the feast Margaret of Citta di Castello (died 1320). Her claim to fame is that she levitated while praying. Try it, and you will see that this is not simple.

We here at Leigh are holding our breath to know whether Brian Hunter will keep his spot at the top of the standings, or whether brother Hilton will beat his sibling’s time.

And now I can tell you. As of 3 pm, Brian remains in first place. Hilton performed admirably, coming in at 5:44. He held onto second place for several rounds, until Paul Hayes did the course in 5:35. Then Henry Bridges upset the rankings further by whipping through the course in 5: 39, beating out Hilton for third place, as well as beating his son, Cory’s time by almost three minutes. The triumph of experience over youth, hah!

The Hunter brothers taking sustenance.
Once again, the fun was not limited to nail-biting suspense, cutthroat competition and tallying the penalty times. A barbecued lunch of burgers, dogs and ribs was cooked and served up by Southeastern Forklift, one of the companies vying for the pleasure of selling 26 new forklifts and 48 batteries to Leigh Fibers. This catering coup was accomplished by none other than Organizer Extraordinaire, Lamar Nelson.

Scorekeepers, Course Managers and Contenders, Paul Middleton and Paul Hayes
The afternoon featured several competitors of the female persuasion, not one of whom had any previous experience on a forklift. Jennifer Lackey of HR blew away her competition (and vastly improved on her time of 2 years ago) with 15:35. Parris Hicks-Chernez was a speed demon on the course, but lost ground with her accumulated penalties (Several traffic cones lost their lives, or their shapes.)

Kathy Higaki of Marketing dressed for the occasion.
I could go on, but it’s time to fly home. This is especially frustrating because, so I am told by my sources, José Garcia, the last contestant to drive the course, is fast and efficicent and could upset all the current standings. So stay tuned.

Have I mentioned that the prizes are really great? (And donated, again, thanks to Lamar.)

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