Thursday, July 10, 2008

Hometown knuckleheads

A fellow from my hometown, a guy in his early 20's, was out in a canoe with his cousin when they decided to light off some fireworks. Its not clear what the firework was but we must assume it was a 'multiple report' type of device. The first one went off and the combination of the concussion and unstable canoe deck tipped it over and fired the second report into his foot. On the positive side, it also blasted a hole in the canoe which allowed our hero to cool his mangled foot in the water. Knowing O'Neill Creek and the Chippewa River well, I'm not sure I'd cool a wounded anything in that water but that's beside the point. A quick run to the hospital in Eau Claire and then transfer to the burn unit at Hennepin County Medical Center should enable him to walk normally again. Apparently he was cut loose from the hospital yesterday, on crutches and carrying a vacuum device to keep the wound clean and prevent infection.

Reading the story made me think that could have been me at age 23, perhaps in the identical location. On the scale of stupid things I did in my late teens and early 20's it would probably rank within shouting distance of the top but certainly not at the pinnacle of stupidity. I think adolescent boys simply need to play more pool and become good at the game. A good pool player can look past that first easy shot and try to anticipate the shot that will set him up to sink a few more balls. In other words weigh possible options on what might happen next. Whether its risk management for a kayak group or lighting the fuse on the Roman Candle sitting in the bottom of a canoe, people need to be able to weigh the available information, visualize what might happen next, decide the likelihood of the worst case scenario, and evaluate whether its worth the risk. For example, I'm sitting here with an Exploding Bin Laden Noggin in my hand. On Osama's robe it clearly says "Explosive! Emits shower of sparks. Place on level surface. Light fuse and run away". Had Moe and Larry read this instruction they could have ran a scenario through their heads of, .....'hmmm, shower of sparks in close quarters, surface is not level, and we can't run away once we light it. Since we are violating every admonition on the device maybe we shouldn't light the damn thing'. That was not done however and the ER got another customer. The article does not state the contents of the canoeists cooler but I have a pretty fair idea and will consider it a contributing factor.

I was involved in a fireworks related ER trip a number of years ago. We were at my sisters cabin, lighting off fireworks and the neighbors father/grandpa was visiting with his hunting dog. Every time an explosive went off the poor dog ran down to the lake looking for the duck that should certainly be falling from the sky. I'm sure Molitor (the dog) thought these guys are the absolute worst shots in the world. He was very agitated and grandpa kept smacking him and telling him to settle down. A good pool player would have either put the dog in the house or car, or perhaps sat down near the dog and comforted him. Grandpa must have spent his time in the bar playing cards instead of pool however, and he paid the price. Someone lit a 7 ball Roman Candle on the beach and Molitor saw his chance. Here was something he could grab! The dog ran down, grabbed the firework in his mouth, and proudly began strolling up the beach, colored fireballs blasting out the now horizontal end of the device. Spectators were scattering and hitting the dirt and grandpa had seen enough. He grabbed Molitor and smacked him upside the head, yelling at the top of his lungs. Unfortunately for grandpa Molitor had enough also. He spun his head around and bit off grandpa's little finger at the second knuckle. The yelling and smacking stopped, grandpa turned white, and the trip to the ER was inititiated. In another judgemental error, the ladies left me in charge of the little kids while they headed off with grandpa. As the father of two rather rough young boys, how was I to know that suggesting a scavenger hunt on the beach for grandpa's finger would cause weeping and wailing among the little girls? The hunt did take place, divided along gender lines of course, but Molitor must have gulped right after he snapped because the missing digit was never located.

A wise man once warned us to not go anywhere physically that we had not already been mentally. In other words look ahead and try to visualize the consequences of your actions. Looking ahead while wearing 'beer goggles' is not generally a clear view so avoid that also. We want those ER docs snoozing and not working. And a happy belated 4th of July to everyone!

6 comments:

Terry said...

Nice piece of writing, I enjoy your sense of humor. This ranks right up there with your chronicles of the Redneck rampage. I hope that the incident with grandpa didn't cut short Molitor's tenure with the family.

Ranger Bob said...

I'm going to post a comment when I can breathe again.

Joshua said...

Best post ever - thank you!

DaveO said...

Molitor retrieved many a duck after that incident and I heard that Hank...er, ah, 'grandpa' actually treated him with a bit more of the respect he deserved.

Nan said...

I'm glad I'd finished my coffee before I got to grandpa's finger.

granola.freeman said...

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-Kate