8 STITCHES? REALLY?
When I was in 9th grade, we had to take a shop class equally divided between automotive, wood working & electricity. My interests didn’t really align with any of them but I did my best. When 11th grade came along, I decided to take a full semester of wood working as it was my favorite of the three.
We started small, creating simple projects while learning about the tools and… Ahem… Safety.
Towards the end of the semester, we were given free reign to create whatever we wanted for our final project. Naturally, I decided to make a movie shelf. I had began working at a local Pizza Hut so I had money to buy used VHS tapes. My collection was beginning to grow and I needed something to hold my movies.
The shelf I had in mind could not have been simpler to build yet I found a way to screw it up. In the process, I changed the way they taught wood shop safety forever.
A planer is used to make planks of wood thinner. I was using it to create my frame and shelves. Now… a key step in the process is to never set the machine to shave off too much wood at once. The wood gets stuck in the blades.
When a plank gets stuck, the procedure is to shut off the machine and use another piece of scrap wood to free the wood. I shut off the machine but failed to wait long enough for the blades to slow down. Being an intelligent human being, I grabbed a metal ruler to fight against the planer’s sharp teeth. The second the wood was free the ruler nicked the blades and came flying out of the machine.
It sliced a huge cut in the palm of my hand and I immediately went into shock.
I raised my hand and class went silent. The teacher sent a student to get the vice principal and wrapped my hand. They called an ambulance and my Dad while my friends straddled the line between laughter and concern. I was actually okay until the paramedics got there and told me I needed stitches.
I’m not a fan of needles. In order to get stitches they have to numb the area with a needle and then use a separate needle to stitch the wound. The color drained from my face. Throughout my life, I’ve experienced injuries but they were always related to sports. I was an enormous sissy about the stitches. My Dad could tell I was terrified and smiled accordingly.
After a long wait in the emergency room, it was finally time to get stitched up. It hurt but I got over it… Above all else, I’m thankful the ruler didn’t hit my thumb. The doctor told me I could have lost it if the ruler hit me at a different angle. Even now I think about how lucky I got and what a wimp I was.
I eventually finished the shelf and I still have it to this day although it’s buried in a closet somewhere. From what I’ve heard, the story of the idiot who needed 8 stitches is told on the first day of school… Every year.