Wet Pants Wednesday

This Charlie Derrington story occurred in the Custom Shop prior to my hire at Gibson. Danny Roberts and I were rehashing Charlie stories as we sometimes do whenever we call each other. I never really knew all the details to this one until Danny filled me in a few months ago.

I guess Phil Jones(another luthier in the Custom Shop) was always complaining about health issues to Charlie. After hearing one too many of Phil’s complaints, Charlie decided to create one for him. Charlie took weeks to pull off this burn on Phil. He set Phil up on several opportunities at lunches and during regular work hours about an article he read in a magazine. This article mentioned that woodworkers and those that were in areas that had high dust environments developed chronic health problems. One of the many problems was sudden loss of bladder control.

Unknown to Phil, the burn had started even before Charlie mentioned the article to him. Charlie had been loading Phil’s work chair with water intermittently once or twice weekly. As time went by he squirted water in the foam pad of Phil’s chair while he was on break or lunch or when he left his bench area suddenly. The chairs we had in our bench areas were nice ones that had a thick padding. The heavy black material hid the fact that Charlie was squirting water in the foam interior when Phil was not around. These chairs could be easily raised up and down and Phil sat in his often when he was doing certain tasks at his bench. Many times Phil noticed faint moisture in his seat and wondered why this was happening? He began feeling embarrassed about it but said nothing.

Time went by and Charlie kept bringing up the loss of bladder control to those who may be breathing a lot of saw dust. Through the weeks Phil began to feel the wetness more often. Charlie got others in the department to drop hints to Phil about bladder issues. Mike Voltz (another luthier) mentioned the article to Phil. Danny Roberts also brought it up. Others were telling Phil of Gibson employees out in the factory that began having bladder control problems.

Finally over lunch one day, Phil caved in. The sky began to fall and he told Charlie about his bladder problems and that it had been going on for weeks. Phil always had a hard time believing anything Charlie ever said. That being said, he also wanted to believe anything anyone ever said as Phil always looks to peoples good side, even Charlie Derrington.

This conversation over lunch was Charlie’s chance to take this practical joke to the next level. He drilled a hole through the wall under his bench one night while staying late after work. Phil always left at 5 pm. Charlie measured accurately. His bench faced Phil’s bench. The wall between their benches had an opening built in, an open window of sorts, where they could talk to each other while working. Under his bench Charlie rigged up a plastic quart bottle filled up with water. The end of the bottle had a pointed cone on it and he attached a few feet of clear 1/4” aquarium tubing to the end of the bottle. The end of the tubing ended up going through the common wall under their benches and barely stuck out under the bench under Phil’s side. Now Charlie was ready for the next step. Personally I think Charlie may have missed his calling. He may have been better suited making gadgets for the CIA.

Phil began confiding in more employees about his newest problem. Most the folks he talked to knew what Charlie was up to. The water bottle idea was working nicely, at least Charlie thought so. When he first started using it he would give Phil one blast of the bottle and it’s effects were suddenly noted. Phil began showing Charlie the wet spots on his pants or cargo shorts. He would tell Charlie he had no feeling in the area and he had no recollection of urinating. Charlie was one of the best I have ever seen at keeping a straight face when he was pulling someones leg. One day it got to be too much.

He had started giving Phil two blasts or squeezes of the bottle. Phil screamed out “God Damnit” as he looked at the mammoth wet spot in his pants. Charlie tried to keep his composure but couldn’t. He began laughing so hard he cried. He had put so much energy into this practical joke, he couldn’t let it go on any longer. With Charlie’s reaction, Phil began to think something was going on and he looked under his bench. He quickly spotted the tubing and the hole drilled into the wall. He stormed around to Charlie’s side of the bench and caught Charlie red handed with the squeeze bottle in his hand. Cursing began as Charlie continued his laughter. Then Charlie had to explain the weeks of misinformation he had been feeding to Phil through surrogates and the like. Phil was so mad they say he walked out that day, till he cooled off a couple of hours later. He didn’t speak to Charlie for days before he let Charlie back into his life. Phil enjoyed the attention too much to be really mad at somebody for too long of a time.

I have no idea where Charlie got his ideas for his practical jokes. This one took so long to develop it kind of took on a life of it’s own. He was always quick on his feet and most importantly could keep that serious face of his if he needed to. If you are out at a festival or a show and have the opportunity to ask Danny Roberts about Phil’s bladder problem, I am sure he could shed some more light on the story as he was a big part of it. There may be some other Charlie Derrington tales he might come up with for your amusement.