Thursday, June 22, 2006

Working Fingers and Chicken Strips

Every morning I have a ritual. About number twelve on my list is the cracking of the fingers. Working hands spend their days gripping and squeezing, holding onto things, some of them dangerous if dropped ( a spinning saw leaps right out at me) and not a whole lot of time splaying in the sun and enjoying a well deserved tool vacancy. My left hand squeezes lumber all day. Every cut of a two by four is a squeeze with my left, while a torquing saw whines and cuts held in my right hand. I've done this a million times, meaning, I've worked it out. What I can do, what I can't do, how much I am willing to risk as I let my fingers get perilously close to a sharp and spinning saw blade.

After I crack my fingers by stretching them backwards, I pull on them. Occasionally, I'll get another "pop" but mostly it just feels good to relieve a little pressure on the joints, even if for only a few seconds...

My fingers deserve this.

Almost every job I've ever done that involved other carpenters or tradesmen has invariably produced a lost finger conversation. It starts with a cut, a comment, an anecdote, and the stories spill out like vienna sausages dumped from their can...

"He lost these three right here (middle to pinky) and got the middle two back. They sewed 'em on and he pretty much got the use of them back which was lucky. He woulda got his pinky back too but as he was trying to gather up his other two and put them on ice, a chicken ran in and stole off with his pinky. He said it was the only chicken he killed and ate himself, 'cause he thought it was only fair... Imagine that!"

"I lost half the tip of this finger (the index on his left hand) on a bandsaw. Damn if it didn't piss me off to no end. A couple weeks later, after it healed, it was sharper than all my other fingers and I could finally use a finger to dial a phone (obviously way back when)..."

"He cut off the tip of two fingers on the saw. For some strange reason, he thought they were going to fall in between the blade and the table and get chewed up, so he panicked and reached in to grab them. He cut his hand off at the wrist. Dumbest thing I ever heard of..."

"I got it caught in the springs of a garage door when I fell off my ladder. It took these two digits, right here..,"

"I was feeding an onery horse carrots and it bit these three off, right here. "

"I stuck my finger in two holes that were missing a bolt. The plates shifted and took this bit right here. I wrote a note in my shop with the blood so I wouldn't worry my boss when he came back from lunch..."

And so they go...

I once dropped a transmission that fell off a jack with all its weight on my pinky. It exploded like an orange would if you squashed it with your foot. I didn't know we have fat inside our pinkies. I do now. I used superglue in lieu of stitches and the finger healed scarred, but fine.

I once hit a thumb with a hammer in the morning, then lanced the pressure out of it at lunch, and hit it an hour later on a cold day with a two pound hammer with a waffled striking plate.

The only pain I've ever felt that made me cry like a child...

I once got a sliver up a nail all the way to the quick. I pulled it out with needle nose, and then had another sliver find the same hole a day later.

The only pain I've ever felt that made me cry like a coyote...

But I still got 'em all, and I love them all equally.


shar said...

The pic reminds me of that neighbour in 'Home Improvement'. You never get to see the whole face.

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