“You realize this means that I’m going to have to sell all of my Johnson & Johnson stocks, don’t you?” My supervisor looked at me seriously, but the twinkle in his eye belied his solemn tone. “What do you mean?” I queried. “Well, if you’re not working for us anymore, they’re won’t be making any profit on production of Band-Aids and the stock will go down the tubes,” he quipped, now beginning to chuckle. It was my last week at the old job of working with the electrical contractor. I chuckled right along with him, but I knew he was wrong. The monster health-care products manufacturer was safe. You see, as long as I have any jobs to do that involve manual dexterity and tools, I’ll be needing their services. Frequently.
It was a long standing joke that the company’s shopping list always included a fresh supply of the little adhesive bandages while I was employed there. I have told you before that I am a klutz, but when you add tools to the mix, there is every chance that blood will be involved. Unless I burn myself first. Soldering irons and hot-glue guns are also self-inflicted wounds waiting to happen in my hands. My self-proclaimed mantra concerning the glue gun is, “There’s a reason they call it ‘hot-glue’.” Why, just two evenings ago, the Lovely Lady asked me to help position a piece of cardboard for a project she was working on and I stuck my thumb right in front of the gun as she moved toward her first glue point. Rule of thumb (just so you know and yes, pun intended): You should always let the glue cool off before attempting to remove it from your skin. Hot glue spread around only makes the third-degree burns cover a larger area.
Again, a few moments before I sat down to write tonight, I found myself scrambling for one of the ubiquitous bandages to stem the flow of blood from my fore-finger. I understand how to use tools. Really, I do! I know the rules for safe usage of all the hand-operated implements in my work bench. I just don’t follow them. I comprehend completely that the item held in your hand is not a safe surface on which to apply pressure with a screwdriver, but placing it on the bench makes it harder to see (and takes extra time to clear a space), so now I have an inch long laceration on my finger which throbs as I type. Somehow, it is easier to use a razor blade when you cut toward, rather than away, from your body. The list goes on. Files, hack-saws, pliers…all have contributed to the periodic blood-letting and frequent howls of pain. Even the tape dispenser has played its part in the sad tableau a time or two. No, the investors at Johnson and Johnson can rest easy. Their funds are safe.
Why do I repeat the dangerous actions time and time again? You have no doubt heard that one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, while expecting a different result. I don’t really think my sanity is seriously in question (yet), but this does beg the question, does it not? I cut corners to save time, but pay the price in pain. I take the easy way to work on a project, only to spend the next few days wincing every time I move the injured appendage. I’m just not sure how to modify my behavior after all these years. Maybe I never will.
I’m not sure if it fits, but I recall a story another supervisor told me years ago about his shop teacher in high school. The shop teacher was a stickler for safety, insisting on eye protection and hard hats when appropriate. He was constantly correcting unsafe procedures around the table-saws and other power tools and giving instructions regarding the use of utility knives, awls, and hammers. All of that was undone in a few seconds one fateful afternoon. As the entire class worked on a project in the shop, the teacher spotted a retractable tape measure, with the tape extended and locked in place, lying on the floor. Pouncing on it quickly, he demanded to know to whom the tape belonged. As the unlucky culprit admitted ownership, the teacher launched into a tirade about how unsafe it was to leave the tape stretched out. Someone might have tripped over it, it might have gotten caught in a power tool, and someone could even cut himself on it. As he spoke, he released the lock. The tape zipped back into its case, gashing the teacher’s hand as it slid past. It took numerous stitches to close the wound, but no amount of time spent in the emergency room could undo the damage done to his reputation as a safety expert. Sometimes, bad stuff just happens, no matter how careful we are.
I guess what I’m saying is that you’ll get no deep spiritual truths from me tonight. No life lessons, no earth-shattering philosophies, just a casual shrug of the shoulders. I’ll probably continue to muddle through life, with a cut here and a burn there. The alternative is for me to sit and vegetate in my easy chair. And, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, I like my easy chair. Naps are good for the soul. That said, I hope that the undertaker has to pry a tool of some sort out of my battered hands when they come to take me away. Sitting in the easy chair is okay for a bit of rest and relaxation. But, I’ve still got some living to do and there’ll be a good bit of work done before I’m finished. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I just hope the Lovely Lady remembers that we need some Band-Aids when she goes shopping later this week.
“Say, do you think they call it a “nail-gun” because it shoots nails?”
(Al, in “Home Improvement”~1990’s Television sit-com)
“Let us then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate.
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labour and to wait.”
(Henry Wadsworth Longfellow~American poet~1807-1882)