Friday, July 15, 2011

When a finger meets a hedge trimmer, the finger loses

I knew what I had done the instant it happened.
Even before the pain went from my little finger to my little brain I knew I had screwed up.
I was trimming the top of a rather tall cedar hedge when I nearly lopped off the baby finger on my left hand.
I was half-way up a four-metre ladder and was reaching to the far side of the hedge when disaster struck. Sure, I could have moved the ladder over a little bit, but that would mean climbing down the ladder, moving it a few inches, climbing back up...It just seemed like too much effort, so I decided to reach for it instead.
Before I continue, I would just like to say I never claimed to be overly bright, something loyal readers will confirm no doubt.
To get to the far side of the top of the hedge I reached out as far as I could, holding the electric trimmer in one hand while squeezing the on-switch trigger thingy.
No problem and all went well until I brought the trimmer back toward me and attempted to grab the round handle on the top of the trimmer.
I say attempted because had I succeeded, this column would not exist.
Instead of grabbing the little black handle, I missed and my little finger did its impression of a branch and the trimmer did its impression of a trimmer chopping up my finger.
As soon as I felt the little metal teeth of the trimmer hit my finger, I knew what I had done. There was nothing else to do but wait for the pain, and stop the bleeding.
The pain arrived - big time - as did the blood.
It is amazing how much plasma you can distribute upon the earth from a few chops with a reciprocating metal blade.
I climbed down the ladder just as the Missus came outside to see me holding my hand with blood dripping to the ground, creating a kind of CSI home edition thing.
My wife is a nurse, so the injury did not faze her in the least. She leapt into immediate action, and grabbed gauze and whatever else she needed all the while doing her best to stifle any and all comments of the smart aleck variety, which I believe was the most challenging part of the whole scenario for her.
I know she had more than a few comments she wanted to send my way, but choked them down – until the medical procedure was taken care of anyway.
When my kids heard dad had cut his finger, they came running out to survey the scene.
“You mean you didn't cut it off? Awwww, bummer.”
“Thanks kids. I'm OK, really. Don't worry about your ol' dad. He's a trooper. He'll be fine. Thanks for caring.”
Once the bleeding was under control, it was off to the walk-in clinic for some up-close-and-personal care of the doctor variety.
After I had spent the mandatory amount of time in the waiting room, I was escorted into the little doctor room where the doctor does all of his medical type stuff.
In this case, the first thing he did was cause me a lot more pain.
The sadist, I mean doctor, put a needle directly into the open wound and it took a few seconds before the freezing kicked in - a few long and painful seconds.
“This may sting a little.”
A little? Did you just say a little?
“Hey doc, this might sting a little, because I am going to kick you square in the...”
But once the freezing kicked in all was forgiven.
Actually it wasn't, but the man was about to sew up a body part so I felt I should be on my best behaviour.
I set a record that day - eight stitches - beating my previous record by two.
I no longer have feeling in the tip of that finger, but that is OK, considering how much feeling I had when it was chopped and stuck with a needle, not feeling anything felt pretty good.

Good to see you, again and again and...

“Good morning, how are you today?”
“I’m fine, and you?”
“I’m well, have a good day.”
“You too.”
Those are pleasantries exchanged billions of times a year as people show up for work.
It is a friendly bit of banter that acknowledges you know the other person, you are happy to see them (or at least you are being cordial if happy is too strong a word) and then it is off to another day in the salt mines.
Depending on the relationship between the greeter and the greetee (if that is a real word), these conversations may be a little longer and touch on a diversity of topics from how was your weekend – typical for a Monday greeting – to how is the wife, kids and/or family pet.
As the day progresses there are often passing encounters with a co-worker, but even on these secondary and even third meetings there is still a need to recognize that the other person is sharing the same time and space on earth as you are.
The verbal greeting has already been done and there is not a whole lot more to say, but still the person is right there and you have to do something.
So what do you do?
You look directly at the person and raise your eyebrows a little. This lets them know you see them, and that you are still at least somewhat approving of their ongoing existence.
The eyebrow raise seems simple enough, but there are a few guidelines one should adhere to.
Do not raise your eyebrows so much as to look like you are shocked, surprised or have some weird ailment that makes your eyes look big, but just enough to acknowledge the other person.
The eyebrow bop, as I call it, is a very common form of secondary greeting among co-workers. The bop can also be accompanied by a slight and brief upward tilt of the head.
It says “Hey, how are ya doing? I see you right there, but really have nothing to say.”
More often than not, the other person will respond with a similar movement of a body part – typically the eyebrows are raised in a return gesture.
If combining the bop and the tilt are too complicated or strenuous, either can be done without the other while still conveying a silent greeting.
The head tilt can be either upward or downward, but typically the downward tilt is reserved for someone you do not know and is simply a way of saying, “Hey, way to be alive stranger.”
Also, when doing the bop, make sure you raise both eyebrows, because if you raise just one, the other person could misinterpret your non-verbal communication.
In some cultures, raising a single eyebrow is considered giving someone the ‘evil eye,’ which is a bad thing.
If you raise just one eyebrow and curl you lip at the same time, they may think you are doing an impromptu Elvis impersonation and will likely believe you to be of an odd nature.
Personally, I do not need the Elvis impersonation for people to think that about me, but that is for another day.
However, if you want to avoid all initial interaction and subsequent greetings there is action you can take.
When the person asks, “How are you doing?” get a little more creative in your answers rather than the typical “I’m fine.”
For example, “How are you doing today?”
“Terrible, this spastic colon is driving me crazy.”
That is pretty much guaranteed to send the conversation into a whole new direction and is often the generator of an awkward silence.
And any conversation with the words “boil” and “puss” in it will likely end sooner rather than later.
You can be pretty sure providing such information will make the person think twice about engaging you in banter – forever.
There is even a good chance you will not have to even worry about the bop or the tilt because that person will avoid you as if you were the drunk uncle at a family reunion.