Falling off a log

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“It won’t happen to me, I’m only [insert action here].” Somehow, trivializing an easy action makes an unwanted outcome seem unlikely. It doesn’t work.

In discussions on just about every woodworking forum on the Internet, accidents always seem unexpected by people doing some specific simple action that led directly to the accident. Most often, it’s because the action is so minor. How could such an innocent action have such a drastic consequence? Ask the guy who “only” reached over the blade, “only” held something by hand instead of clamping it, “only” wore the wrong shirt while woodturning, or any other trivial action that you just assume couldn’t lead to something bad happening.

Case in point:

My wife has (had) a very bad habit. She stands (stood) on chairs all the time to reach things. Every time she does (did), I lecture (lectured) and beg (begged) her not to do it. “But I’m ‘only’ standing on a chair. Nothing’s going to happen.”

You probably noticed the juxtaposition of present/past tense in the above paragraph. Well guess what? But first, before you guess – she’s fine. Bruised, sore, shaken and chagrinned, but she’s fine. She’s also now a firm believer.

She was climbing on a chair yesterday at school, and gravity – which has been waiting for this opportunity for a long time, I suspect – did that thing it does so well. She hit the floor hard and so fast she has no idea what exactly happened. One second she was on the chair, the next she was on the floor hurting and checking parts to make sure they all still work.

Before we went to bed last night she told me the whole thing. If she hadn’t I would never have known, but she learned something about what I’ve been telling her for years: It’s easy to hurt yourself doing something that just doesn’t seem dangerous. She also felt it was important to let me know that she’d learned it, even at the risk of getting an I-told-you-so response. To her credit, she didn’t care. To my credit, I avoided the I-told-you-so. Well, mostly.

Bottom line is that the lesson was learned, painfully but without serious injury. There will be no more chair climbing.

A.J.

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