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My Forks Were Nearly Fully Underneath The Stack

I woke up that morning as usual, ready to go to school to learn all about life as a forklift, when I remembered that today was the day of my final exam. Afterwards, I would be a fully license forklift and able to work on real construction sites! I was so excited, but the more I thought about it the more worried I got.

I went to my friend Kalmar. Her real name was Model DC12-1200, but we all called her Kalmar because of the writing on her side. It was a birthmark, she claimed, but some people thought she had gotten a tattoo when she lived at the other construction site, before she came here. Some people also thought she dyed her body. Red like that couldn't be natural, they said.

Hyundai had already taken her exam. She was a few years older than me and had been a fully licensed forklift for a few years.

"Is the exam going to be hard?" I asked her. "What if I fail it?"

"It's not hard, Hyundai," she told me, calling me by my nickname. My teachers called me 18L-7, which I thought was just too formal for friendly interactions. "The test is the same stuff you've been doing in school your entire life - lifting, turning, backing up. You know, forklift stuff. Just make sure you don't drop your load, and don't try to carry too much at a time. It's ok to make more than one trip."

I sighed. "Ok, I hope you're right."

"You'll do fine," she said. "Just relax and take your time."

I nodded and then said goodbye. The exam was about to start and being late would disqualify me before I even had a chance. I got to the evaluation area just as the judges called my name.

"Present!" I shouted. "I'm here."

The judges looked at me. They looked bored and slightly disapproving, but I tried not to let that worry me. I waited until they told me how to proceed.

One of them rolled toward me. "Your examination is about to begin. Please follow me." He had a clipboard propped up on his forks with a list of requirements on it. He led me to an open area of the construction site with several stacks of crates in various areas around it.

"Your task is to move these three stacks over to the other side and put them on the three over there, making all three stacks even in the end. There is no specified way to accomplish this goal. You have fifteen minutes to complete the task and your time starts...now."

I took a deep breath and evaluated the stacks. The crates were small enough, but moving an entire stack at once wouldn't be an option. However, moving them one at a time would take too long. I only had fifteen minutes. I decided to take the top two crates from the first stack first. I accomplished that easily and deposited them on top of the first stack on the opposite side.

I continued taking two crates at a time. I thought I was moving quickly enough, and the stacks on the opposite side were staying at equal heights. Then one of the judges yelled, "You have three minutes left."

There were seven crates left for me to move. If I did it two at a time as I had been, I wouldn't make it within the time limit. Inhaling deeply, I braced myself and picked up three crates. With a grunt as the crates settled into place on my forks, I made my way across the site and managed to safely deposit the three crates onto one stack.

There were four crates left. Three had been manageable - they weren't too heavy. I thought I could probably handle taking the last four at once. I didn't want to run out of time when I was so close. I got back to the last crates and prepared myself to pick them all up.

"One minute!" yelled the judges. I panicked. My forks were nearly fully underneath the stack, so I began lifting them off the ground and backing up at the same time. The stack of crates wobbled as I turned around and sped toward the other side, but it didn't fall. I moved as fast as possible without them falling.

I was almost to the other side when the stack started to wobble more. It was tipping forward - my forks weren't holding all of the crates, and they had started to slip off! I slowed down and kept them from falling, but they were still wobbling almost out of control. I got to the other stacks and carefully, very carefully, lifted the last four crates high enough to place them on top of the third and final stack. They wobbled - the whole stack wobbled - but they stayed.

"That's time," called the judge who had spoken to me at the beginning.

I sighed. My stacks were even and staying solidly standing. The judges approached to inspect them closely.

"Very good," I heard one of them murmur. I smiled to myself.

"Well, your time was running short toward the end, but you managed to pull yourself back. That was quite impressive. All in all, you did a very good job. I think all the judges agree that you most definitely...passed your examination. Congratulations, 18L-7, you are now a fully licensed forklift."

My smile widened. "Thank you so much! You won't regret it, I promise. Thank you, again." I said as I was backing away. As soon as I was out of their site, I sped away to look for Kalmar and tell her the good news.

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