From: Parkwood Brickworks
To: Smith & Company
12 New Street
For the attention of Ms Hortense Topplewell
Dear Ms Topplewell
Thank you for your letter of 18 August, in which you request a reference for Paul Drooplock, who I understand has applied to you for a position as a night watchman/security officer.
Mr Drooplock joined this company on 6 May and left us two weeks ago. He was employed first as a shot-firer in our quarry and later as a general labourer. His first day here was marked by the collapse of our production office. He had called there to speak with the yard foreman, who was not there at the time. While waiting for him, Mr Drooplock lit a pipe – he was unaware that smoking is not allowed here. Regrettably, he did this while standing over a bowl containing several machine parts which the foreman had immersed in petrol for the purpose of removing grime. Burning tobacco fell into the bowl, causing a fierce blaze. Mr Drooplock rushed from the office, emerging unscathed. The building was wrecked. However, it was old and scheduled for replacement, so we merely expedited our plans.
Two weeks after the accident described above, Mr Drooplock was taking a short cut to the quarry by way of our kibbler shed, where large clods of clay are reduced to small pieces. On that day we had run out of dynamite and Mr Drooplock’s senior colleague had given him permission to use his initiative. He absented himself for an hour and returned with a basinful of nitro-glycerine. On entering the shed he tripped over a shovel and inadvertently deposited the basin onto a conveyor belt, which shook considerably as it passed over rollers. As you may know, the substance Mr Drooplock was carrying is notoriously unstable. It exploded, demolishing the structure and severely damaging the kibbling machine. Once again Mr Drooplock was able to hurry from the scene and escape without injury. Happily, the kibbler operator had left the building to take a tea break at the time, so he was also unhurt.
Immediately after the mishap with the nitro-glycerine, we transferred Mr Drooplock to general yard work. Two weeks later he had occasion to call at the milling house, where the kibbled clay is crushed to powder, which is later stamped into raw bricks. Unfortunately, during Mr Drooplock’s visit, the miller had a fit of hiccups. He pointed to his back, indicating the need for a firm pat, which he was unable to administer himself. Mr Drooplock obliged, with considerable vigour. This resulted in the miller rolling over the guard rail and meeting his death under the two six-ton grinding wheels. We concluded that Mr Drooplock had been doing his best to help his workmate and that he was not to blame for what happened.
A month later there was a further occurrence. We operate the traditional way by placing unfired bricks in kiln chambers. This is done manually by setters, who work in pairs. When a chamber is full, its mouth is closed with finished bricks, whereupon firing is done by coal, shovelled in from above. Shortly after one of the chambers in our number two kiln had been sealed, someone noticed that a setter was missing. It was assumed that he had left for home, and no further thought was given to the matter until the following morning, when he did not report for work. As he lived alone, we were unable to establish what had happened to him. We became concerned, opened the chamber and found that the poor fellow had been immured and had perished in the heat. It was rumoured that shortly before he bricked up the chamber, Mr Drooplock had been involved in an argument with the deceased employee. However, this was hearsay and nobody was prepared to testify to it.
Apart from his being present at the scene of each of the four above-mentioned incidents, Mr Drooplock’s three-month spell of employment with us was largely uneventful. On the whole, he did the work assigned to him to the best of his satisfaction.
We hope that the above information will be helpful to you.
P.S. As you have invited Mr Drooplock for an interview, perhaps you would do us a small favour by asking him whether he knows what became of twelve sticks of gelignite that vanished from here on the day he left us.
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