The one time I stayed awake during Chemical Hazard Training

Sitting in a stuffy, humid training room surrounded by 70 plus other employees, I made a mental note to bring a salad tomorrow as it was to be the 2nd day of training and the topics were not looking much more entertaining.

I had consumed leftover homemade mac n cheese topped with bacon and a parmesan crust that was to die for.

What seemed like comfort food at the time, was now making me extremely uncomfortable.

I eyed my sweating can of Dt. Mt. Dew, the tears on its exterior were no match to the ones I would be crying on the inside as the trainer, aka Richard began to produce noise.

With 3 and a half hours to go, this can must remain unopened for at least the first hour.

Bueller, Bueller

This was the only thought that popped into my head as I looked to either side of me.

My usual procrastination had landed me in the middle of a row of 30 plus people.

Becoming increasingly anxious, I glanced behind me.

Absolutely no room to make a quiet escape.

I fidgeting in my chair, my eyes grew heavier.

Had my mother rocked me to sleep as an infant?

I forced myself to examine the people around the room, so many fluttering eyelids.

A few had heads pointed down propped up on their hand and fixed intently on the handout.

Remembering a painful middle school incident of my off of my hand giving way allowing my head to loudly hit the table; this would never again be viable option for me.

I said a quick prayer thanking God that there were no smart phones back then.

That would most likely have produced a full page in the yearbook not to mention a viral YouTube video.

I looked around, about 20 percent had brought phones despite the memo.

How was I going to do this and not repeat middle school embarrassment brought to an advanced technology level?

A clipboard suddenly slid in front of me

Name and signature

It was a small thing, but I wrote every letter as if I was in the first grade learning penmanship for the first time

I reviewed the names, did everyone in this class have excellent penmanship?

I sadly slide the clipboard to the gentleman next to me, startling him as he had just begun to tap his hand on the handout

I made a mental note to kick him from time to time, I was not about to let my neighboring classmates’ head fall to the table

Thankfully, It was at this moment then my creative wheels start turning.

Why not bring the speakers message to life on paper?


Time to turn the page on the handout with the group

I now immersed myself into the topic, reflecting on the chemicals I utilize in the workplace

Does the ink in my pen count?

I use soap on my hands in the restroom

I glance again at the guy next to me, for some reason I can’t help thinking this meeting should have been optional for him

Next PowerPoint slide

We’re on to spills

Acid spills and neutralizing agents

As he mentions neutralizing powder, I remember that I need another box of baking soda for the fridge

I had just recently completed the annual required cleaning resulting in throwing the old box out

By old, I mean 4 years past the expiration date

Who knew baking soda had such a short shelf life?

I stopped to ponder if a box 4 years newer would have neutralized the odors I had inhaled over the weekend

I’m quite sure I’ll never know the answer to that question

More reflection, could I possibly be the only one who had multi-purposed the contents of said outdated box for baking in a pinch?

I was not about to take a poll on that.

Another pause

Turn the page

This new page of information hits me hard

I should not have cleaned out the fridge unprotected

I’ve just learned that my company provides a whole host of PPE’s

Personal Protective Equipment

I envision myself utilizing the lab coat, shoe covers, safety goggles, respiratory mask and that plastic splash guard that covers your entire face

Ventilation hood?

Great idea!!

I have one of those on my stove and Lord knows I could’ve used more fresh air!


Richard suddenly asks if anyone has questions on the material that was covered

My mind is a blur, so much information to digest

Is it over?

I’m not ready to be separated from the topic

And just that abruptly we are released

Most, from a training they will never remember

Me, from a training I will never forget

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