Ways I Didn’t Kill Myself

I go to coffee a couple times a week at Raphael’s after an early morning walk with some friends. One question frequently asked as we tackle the sour dough toast is, “So how did you manage to hurt yourself over the weekend?”

This query is not without basis, as many times reports have come to them of some mishap. None of these accidents or demonstrations of poor judgment have been lethal, but they have expressed some unease regarding my welfare. Unfortunately, this has been happening for a long time.

Early in life, there was adult supervision and constraint on behavior, no “Wild Child” here. Acting out in a town of 200 people would have been difficult anyway. After graduating from high school in the Twin Cities and with a couple years of college under the belt, a summer in St. Louis working in an inner city program provided some opportunities for “learning experiences”.

The events of that summer required transporting kids in three old school busses to a town forty miles west of the city. The vehicles were old, but the engines worked fine, sometimes the brakes not so good. When the busses were full, kids would sit next on the floor between the driver’s seat and the gearshift. Ever try to double clutch with a kid’s head in the way?

After one trip to the camp in High Ridge, Missouri, the program director asked if I would drive to town for some supplies, a 57 Chevy with bald tires the vehicle of choice. Other bad choices followed.

A need for speed on the windy road to town, taking inside curves in the opposing lane seemed like a fun thing to do. Then there was the delivery truck. Brakes were applied, the car swerved back into the proper lane as the driver of the white van cursed out the window shaking his fist; an entirely appropriate response. No one got hurt or died.

Maturity and responsibility came slowly, interspersed with experiments in alcohol consumption that fortunately didn’t result in injury, jail, or stratospheric insurance rates. Marriage arrived and then a toddler staggering around the house.

A first Christmas requires a traditional, freshly cut tree. Those with experience in making Spruces fit in a stand know that it takes some trimming. Sawing AWAY from your hand holding the tree is a good plan. It is much better than a trip to the emergency room and stitches. The thumb survived and the blood came out of the carpet. No one died.

Home repairs can be hazardous. Friends concerned about my welfare have often expressed well-intended concern, “There are people who fix stuff for a living you know.” They don’t understand the challenge.

Garage door springs are a good example. Ever try to tighten one of those suckers so they actually help close the door? After one attempt, a spring came loose, zipped across the garage just short of Mach 1, and embedded itself in the sheetrock at the other end. My head wasn’t in the way. I guess it’s better to be lucky than smart, although perhaps that phrase doesn’t apply here. – – You don’t want to hear about electrical work!

Recreational activities also lend themselves to a certain amount of peril. Dodging man-eating dragonflies on a bike doesn’t necessarily mean going airborne and kissing the asphalt. The separated shoulder wrecked all body symmetry.

A mouthful of snow and scuffed chin are likewise predictable outcomes of face plants on cross-country ski trails. They are usually a direct result of fatigue, lack of focus and most often lousy technique. The idea is to lift the ski off the snow as you skate and not drag the tip catching it on the next glide. Yeah, right.

All in all, the proof is in the telling of the tale. I can still say no one got hurt and I didn’t die – at least so far.

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