Try­ing to do the job alone


About six weeks ago I snapped the junc­tura te­dium to the pinky on my left hand, stim­u­lat­ing ra­dial sagit­tal band rup­ture.

The in­jury was caused by noth­ing more pro­saic than a freak ac­ci­dent, push­ing my finger up against a solid ob­ject.

Ac­cord­ing to med­i­cal lit­er­a­ture, the ten­don that straight­ens my fin­ger­tip has been dam­aged.

“This causes the finger to ‘droop’ across the joint at the end of the finger. This is called a ‘mal­let’ de­for­mity.” If the in­jury re­mains un­cor­rected, the ten­don won’t heal and I won’t be able to straighten my fin­ger­tip again. Woe is me. Even an act as sim­ple as typ­ing this col­umn has be­come very frus­trat­ing. Be­cause of the snapped ten­don, my fin­ger­tip has dropped and ap­par­ently is no longer lis­ten­ing to com­mands from my brain. When my brain tells my finger to hit “A,” for ex­am­ple, it hits three or four keys at the same time.

Now I have to de­cide whether or not to sub­mit to surgery to cor­rect the in­jury. Un­til then, I may as well laugh as cry.

Speak­ing of laugh­ing, my finger in­jury re­minds me of a let­ter a brick­layer al­legedly sent to his em­ployer. It reads as fol­lows:

“I am writ­ing in re­sponse to your re­quest for additional in­for­ma­tion for my in­sur­ance claim. In block No. 3 of the ac­ci­dent claim form, I wrote, ‘ try­ing to do the job alone’ as the cause of my ac­ci­dent. You said in your let­ter that I should ex­plain that state­ment more fully. I trust the fol­low­ing de­tails will be suf­fi­cient.

“I am a brick­layer by trade. On the date of the ac­ci­dent, I was work­ing alone on the roof of a new six­s­torey build­ing. When I com­pleted my work, I dis­cov­ered that I had about 500 pounds of brick left over. Rather than car­ry­ing the bricks down by hand, I de­cided to lower them in a bar­rel by us­ing a pul­ley, which was at­tached to the side of the build­ing at the sixth-floor level.

“Se­cur­ing the rope at ground level, I went up to the roof, swung the bar­rel out, and loaded the bricks into it. Then I went back to the ground and un­tied the rope, hold­ing it tightly to en­sure a slow de­scent of the 500 pounds of bricks. You will note in block No. 22 of the claim form that my weight is 150 pounds.

“Due to my sur­prise at be­ing jerked off the ground so sud­denly, I lost my pres­ence of mind and for­got to let go of the rope. Need­less to say, I pro­ceeded up the side of the build­ing at a very rapid rate of speed.

“In the vicin­ity of the third floor, I met the bar­rel com­ing down. This ex­plains my frac­tured skull and col­lar­bone. Slowed only slightly, I con­tin­ued my rapid as­cent, not stop­ping un­til the fin­gers of my right hand were two knuck­les deep into the pul­ley.

“By this time, I had re­gained my pres­ence of mind and was able to hold tightly to the rope in spite of my pain. At ap­prox­i­mately the same time, how­ever, the bar­rel of bricks hit the ground and the bot­tom fell out of the bar­rel. De­void of the weight of the bricks, the bar­rel then weighed ap­prox­i­mately 50 pounds.

“I re­fer you again to the in­for­ma­tion in block No. 22 re­gard­ing my weight. As you might imag­ine, I be­gan a rapid de­scent down the side of the build­ing. In the vicin­ity of the third floor, I met the bar­rel com­ing up. This ac­counts for the two frac­tured an­kles and the lac­er­a­tions of my legs and lower body.

“This sec­ond en­counter with the bar­rel slowed me enough to lessen my in­juries when I fell onto the pile of bricks, and for­tu­nately, only three ver­te­brae were cracked.

“I am sorry to re­port, how­ever, that as I lay there on the bricks in pain, un­able to stand, and watch­ing the empty bar­rel six sto­ries above me, I again lost my pres­ence of mind, and let go of the rope. The empty bar­rel weighed more than the rope, so it came down upon me and broke both of my legs.

“I hope I have fur­nished in­for­ma­tion suf­fi­cient to ex­plain why ‘ try­ing to do the job alone’ was the stated cause of the ac­ci­dent.”

I must ad­mit that “try­ing to do the job alone” has be­come in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult since my finger in­jury. Still, though, I don’t think I’ll sub­mit this let­ter to my em­ployer, be­cause I’m sure he would im­me­di­ately see through it.

Free­lance jour­nal­ist Bur­ton K. Janes lives in Bay Roberts. His col­umn ap­pears in The Com­pass ev­ery week. He can be reached at bur­

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