The Very, VERY Beginning

My buddy “Jawn” from my NASA days is one of those natural social networkers. I don’t mean on Facebook, I mean in real life, and throughout his whole life. Several of his friends are on a mailing list together; I know them all in Real Life myself, and they’re all great guys. One, Hy, sent out a joke to the group today about men and power tools.

Another, Dave, commented, “Actually, had a friend who was using a table saw and sliced a big gash in the meat below his thumb. Got the wound repaired and healed and went back to his project and did it again. His wife gave the saw away.”

Flashback

That, in turn, spurred a memory from me. One of my first jobs out of high school was in a small manufacturing plant. I watched one of the guys using a utility knife to cut a slot in a long piece of rubber edging slip and RAM the knife into the meat of his hand by his thumb.

Since I was the only one there not bothered by blood (even though this was before my medic days), the boss had me take the guy to the ER. The guy much preferred that I take him than an ambulance, because an ambulance wouldn’t have stopped somewhere (“anywhere!”) so he could get a couple of 12-oz pop-top cans of pain killer.

Take 2

The next week, when the guy returned to the job, he was doing the same task again. And he slipped again, and gashed himself again, and I took him to the ER again.

It was my first introduction to how stupid people could be. Not that he did this, but that he didn’t learn from it. Even for a week.

You never know what little event will have a profound impact on your life, or even spark an entire career. Not just my EMS/medical career, but it informs True, too.

Remember that when you have the choice to say something mean to a kid, or say something nice/helpful/encouraging.

Jawn (aka John) also posted a riddle today, from his 9-year-old granddaughter, Riley: “What keeps jazz musicians on Earth? Groovity!” See? It really does start young.

9 thoughts on “The Very, VERY Beginning

  1. Thanks Arcie. I have a suspicion that our buddy Jawn has been somewhat of an influence on that young lady!

    Jawn is the same “Jawn” that dubbed me Arcie. That story is here. George is another of Jawn’s NASA buddies I’ve enjoyed meeting in real life. -rc

  2. At least I was smart enough to slice the other thumb the second time and it was 10 years between accidents.

    Did you average at least one can of pain killer a day in the meantime, just to be sure? -rc

  3. No, I don’t drink pain killers of that nature.

    However, I have told people, jokingly, that the scars are from a time that I was contemplating suicide but wasn’t fully committed to it so I slit my thumbs instead of my wrists (the scars are almost identical). Boy, does that get me some funny looks (I do have a warped sense of humor).

    You are, after all, a This is True subscriber! -rc

  4. Once had an employee in a retail store who sliced the inside of his thigh with a box cutter (barely missing removing his future ability to reproduce). I drove him to the hospital. Three days later he and his stitches returned to work whereupon he tried to de-thumb himself using the same box cutter. Don’t let anyone tell you intelligence is genetic — his dad was a top engineer at NASA.

    But then again, isn’t it possible his dad was the milkman? -rc

  5. Being in EMS, you will appreciate the irony of the individual who did this.

    I volunteer at the local rescue squad and one duty night, our duty officer (a parademic) was talking to a couple of the EMTs about using cut resistant gloves when working with sharp objects. (Names have been withheld to protect the dim-witted).

    One of the EMTs (a wise-ass) wondered out loud as to whether you could purposely “try” to cut your hand and the glove would still protect you. The officer thought this would be a good demonstration, put the glove, pulled out his pocket knife and drew it across his hand…and promptly discovered why they are called “cut-resistant” and not “cut-proof”!

    As the whole group (trained EMTs, remember) watched the blood spatter the floor of the equipment bay, the same wise-ass said (and no, I’m not kidding), “I bet you can’t do that again”!

    He did!

    Then everyone came to their senses and packaged him for transport to the Hand Clinic in a neighboring city.

    To this day, in the EMT classes in our county (a rather large urban fire department with 50 or so stations), this incident is cited as a “don’t let this happen to you”….

    He really earned the nickname he was called by after that: Mack (as in Mack the Knife).

    I would have probably called him “Obliviot” — but that’s just me. -rc

  6. No offense to Randy, but Dawn’s story about the knife and glove is the funniest thing I’ve seen all day!

    Oh, no worries: I know there are some obliviots in EMS — I’ve worked with some of them. -rc

  7. I see that the humor was there from the first. I was a Critical Care RN before we had that term. I wish I could tell you how many people I have not been able to stop from injuring themselves with a debrillator. And it does usually take 2 or more times before they give up and do it the right way on the dummies. (I am not going to identify whom I believe were the biggest dummies.) And folks, it was the med students who were the absolute worst offenders.

    That’s scary! Defibrillators can kill when messed with. -rc

  8. Glad you clarified that Randy. Not being familiar with medical equipment, I kept trying to figure out what a “debrillator” was, but Google refused to find it for me.

    It would be a good name for something! -rc

  9. I have a story similar to all these box cutter stories. I was in architecture school a few years ago. One of my fellow students was working on a project with PVC piping and, of course, using a PVC pipe cutter. He had several sizes of PVC pipe to cut, but his pipe cutter was only rated for smaller pieces of pipe. That did not seem to faze him, and he would cut whatever he needed to cut with his pipe cutter. One day, he was cutting an especially large piece of PVC pipe (probably 3″ in diameter) when his pipe cutter (which I believe was only meant to cut 2″ in diameter piping or smaller) decided it did not want to cut such a large piece of pipe and would much rather cut something smaller in diameter, like this guy’s thumb, right down to the bone. I did not quite realize how much blood could come out of a thumb until then, and neither did he as he ran away quickly to nowhere in particular. Someone corralled him and took him to the hospital.

    The faculty of that architecture school were (probably still are) real slave drivers. Just because my fellow student had sliced his thumb to the bone did not excuse him from completing his project. So, the next day he was back in studio, thumb bandaged up considerably, cutting PVC for his project. After he had cut up the smaller PVC he needed for his project, he moved to cut the 3″ PVC. And he pulled out a brand new, larger PVC cutter for the job.

    That was a great day for humanity.

    See? Learning is possible! Even in a school. -rc

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