The Left Handed Hammer

An almost true story...



It was his first day on the job, and he wanted to make a good impression. Rob, the youngest of the other engineers in the workshop, called him over and gave him a slip  of paper.


"Get yourself down to the supply room and fill out this requisition."


Tom took the piece of paper, and headed for the door. He stopped for a second, his hand extended and reaching for the door handle, when he saw what the requisition was for. After a moment of thought, his gaze moved to the door handle, and he extended his hand towards it and stepped out, his feet clomping loudly down the stairs. He heard giggling from the room behind him as the door closed.


A left handed hammer. His colleagues had sent him to get a left handed hammer. In his four years of college. he had heard only once before of such a device. In the pub one night, one of his classmates had regaled them all with the tale of how his superiors at a summer job had sent him to the supply room to get a left handed hammer, and how the workers in the supply room had berated him for not knowing that such an item did not exist. On returning to his workplace empty handed, his colleagues had berated him even more for failing in his task, and he warned his fellow students about the risks of such workplace hazing. 


So Tom was ready for this mission, moreso than his co-workers expected. He strode across the courtyard towards the supply room, barely suppressing a giggle of his own.
Opening the door, four sets of eyes fell upon him, and Tom wondered if they were party to the prank. He hoped not, it would be more entertaining that way. He quickly assessed the three men in the room, and made his way towards the man he percieved to be the most senior.

Placing the requisition order down on the counter, and carefully spreading it out for the supply room clerk to see, he drew a deep breath, sighed, and spoke;

"Some fool up in the Electrical Room wants a left handed hammer!"


He spoke loudly enough for the whole room to hear, and quickly won their attention. Before anyone could protest, he leaned forward and spoke in a lower tone to the older man;


"And if you want a bit of a laugh, you'll give me one!"


He then took a five dollar bill out of his pocket, held it up to the man, smiled mischievously, and said; 


"Come with me back to the Electrical Room, and give this back to me when I ask for it."


The older man said nothing, but stared at him for a few seconds. He took the requisition, looked at it, then scrunched up his brow in a look that said to Tom that he was not convinced, and growled; 


"You better make this worth my while!"


Thirty seconds later, Tom and the old man were walking out of the supply room, Tom holding a "left handed hammer" and the supply docket that confirmed it was so, and the old man folding the five dollar bill and sliding it into the back pocket of his pants.


They climbed the stairs, and entered the Electrical Room, heading straight for the desk of his colleague, who was failing desperately to hide his smug grin.


Tom put down the hammer on the desk in front of him, carefully spread out the docket and pointed to the item description,and spoke; 


"There you go, one Left Handed Hammer!"


The room fell silent, all eyes focused on the confrontation. His colleague, Rob, looked down at the paper in front of him, and his grin vanished. He then picked up the hammer, and started examining it, searching for any distinguishing characteristics that would render it specifically "Left Handed".


Failing to find any, he looked blankly at Tom, and then at the supply room clerk. Tom siezed the moment. Extending his hand toward the old supply clerk, he flicked his fingers in the universally recognised gesture that said "Hand it over!" The clerk, still not fully understanding, reached for his back pocket and pulled out the five dollar bill. As he placed it in Tom's hand, Tom spoke again.

"See! I told you he wouldn't know how to use it!"


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