"Ow," I said.
"What happened?" my wife asked.
"Oh, I bumped my finger," I said.
"What'd you do to that finger?" she asked. "I noticed the bandage."
"I cut it," I said.
"Where?" she asked.
"In the shop," I said.
"How?" she asked.
"On the table saw." I said.
Mercifully, she said nothing. After a long pause she asked, "Does it need stitches?"
"No," I said. "It's not really deep. It's just that the tip of it got a little...pulped."
She shuddered. "Well, that gave me weak knees," she said.
"Hey," I said. "me too."
It did -- and I don't think of myself as the weak-kneed type. One minute I was working along, ripping a piece of maple to size for a bathroom cabinet and the next thing I knew, there was an unusual sound and my left index finger was a slightly different shape than it had been. That was followed, of course, by a flood of blood and strong language.
I followed the number-one rule of self-injury -- I managed to get to the sink in the bathroom without spilling any blood on the floor. When I got everything hosed off, I was relieved to see that all that had happened was that I'd sliced myself a little notch about a fourth of the way down through the tip of my finger. I slapped a few layers of bandages on and after a short interval of heebie-jeebies went back to work.
I don't know exactly what happened. However, if you cut yourself on a table saw, almost by definition you've done something dumb. I'm hoping my high school shop teacher doesn't read this, 'cause he'll be mad at me for whatever I did. Sorry, Fred -- I swear I was listening during the safety lectures -- not like those other guys.
Over the years, I've removed various chunks of my body and I've gotten numerous piercings, along with a few dents, but this was the closest I'd ever come to an actual amputation. It got me thinking about one time when the rock door on my combine got stuck.
The rock door is a device in the bowels of a combine that weighs about a hundred pounds, supposedly swings freely on a hinge, and has a spring-loaded latch. Mine wasn't swinging freely, so I had my hand stuck in through the side of the combine, trying to diagnose the trouble, when it came loose and pinched (smashed) my finger against a piece of sheet metal.
It worked on the same principle as guillotine, albeit a very dull guillotine, and the experience made me decide to behave myself when I visited France. Just like the other day, there was a great deal of blood and hopping about, but at least when I was working on the combine I wasn't actually being stupid, just careless.
Anyone should be able to grasp the concept that a 10-inch, toothed blade turning at about a gazillion RPMs is dangerous, but a guy in a hurry to get his wheat harvested could be forgiven for not thinking through that a door that's supposed to swing, but is stuck, could actually become unstuck at any moment.