In this post I’m going to focus on the latest little incident I just encountered which once again beat the odds and left me still numbered among the living.
To the uninitiated, my name is Ben. After spending most of my waking hours in grain bins over the last decade, maybe I should just start signing my name as Bin.
Before becoming a Bin guy, I owned and operated Ben’s Basin City Tire for 20 years. I also owned Basin Propane. After liquidating those businesses, I’ve devoted most of my waking hours in grain storage containers, corn bins to be exact.
I have also dabbled in the safety consulting business, actively providing numerous and excellent examples so others can learn from my vast pool of experience. While most experts just sit in an office and talk about safety, I get out there and actively demonstrate. Every day. You know…the proper and safe way to do things and also the improper and death-defying way.
My safety company has focused and honed in on the second category for more than six decades. My company was established in March of 1955 when I was just a newborn. This vintage company has an excellent record of consistency and on-time performance ever since.
Unfortunately for me but bringing a wealth of knowledge to my safety company, I have been heavily involved and vested in accidents of many kinds and various degrees. Bicycles, tractors, automobiles, airplanes, paper-cutters, parking lots, flying objects, fires, exploding tires, stolen cars and even a few close calls that occurred in bobtail propane trucks. The list is long and getting longer. I’m not sure I’ll live to see the completion of the list.
Fortunately for the propane industry, a major national company bought my propane business some 20 years ago. This has dramatically reduced the chances of a BLEVE in the Pacific Northwest ever since. See, I do take action to make things safer!
PERC should breathe a sign of relief and probably send my safety company a fancy certificate of thanksgiving for my far-sighted sale and exit from the propane business.
If you don’t know what these acronyms stand for, You Tube or Google it. One of the nyms is very exciting. If you’re in the propane business and don’t know what they stand for, get out of the business before it’s too late. Now!
Because I have been in business the majority of my life, you may think I’ve made lots of money. Well, I have but since I’m constantly paying medical bills through the nose, there’s not much left at the end of the day. Permit me to list the various businesses I’ve run and I’ll even give an estimate of the total sales of each of them. Take the following numbers with a grain of salt:
- Tire business 1977-2006 Sales approximately $30,000,000
- Propane business 1999-2005 Sales approximately $4,000,000
- Equipment sales 1999-Present Sales approximately $2,000,000
- Safety Consulting sales 1955-Present Sales approximately $0,000,000
I promised my new bride Michele in 1979 that I would give her all the proceeds from my Safety Consulting business to use for household expenses and fur coats. Needless to say, we’ve had a very unhappy marriage
I’ve been happy with all my companies except the last one. I’m not sure why I have not been able to rack up safety consulting fees, especially since I’ve been doing this one the longest.
My safety company is unique since it regularly features and actually produces high levels of adrenaline, blood pressure through the roof, a pretty amazing tolerance for pain, hundreds of X-rays, countless scars, 27 broken bones, two missing fingers, stitches from tip to stern, some verifiable brain damage and almost no fear whatsoever of any job that might come down the pike.
Since this is probably the first time you have received any instruction from my company, I’m going to offer this introductory safety seminar at no charge. In today’s world, people want instantaneous information so here is my latest instantaneous safety tip:
TODAY’S SAFETY TIP: DON’T BE AN IDIOT!
On the particular morning in question that the sample event occurred (which was just yesterday to be truthful), I will provide instruction concerning:
B–Fast-moving power tools
Picture snapped just as I was getting ready to slice my bacon. I’m sitting in the man-lift cage trying to decide which roof section I wanted the blood to be flowing down in.
Incident report from files of Ben’s Safety Company:
Subject went to the top of a corn bin with articulated man-lift to begin disassembling and moving said bin, starting with the roof first. Subject had a screaming wild and lightning-fast grinding tool complete with a six-inch disc. Subject deemed it necessary to cut some bolt heads off in order to gain access through the roof.
I’m sorry. I’ve got to switch back to a first-person accounting since I am not all that comfortable being a subject.
Some people call the tool a “Skinny Wheel” because it slices through metal (and flesh) like a hot knife slices through butter, I call it a “Slicer”. Whatever you want to call it, it is a handheld machine that should not be used by people (like me) who are three or four gallons short of a full tank.
My slicer and I were zipping through the bolt heads on the bin roof a good 24 feet in the air when I once again forgot a lesson I have learned and relearned at least four times in the last six years. Each of these lessons cost me unforeseen, unplanned and unbudgeted pain, doctor bills and downtime.
Also, I have learned time and time again that the slicer disc deposits little metal filings in my flesh as it carries on with it’s cutting action. This causes the injury to heal two or three times slower than your normal, everyday knife attack would.
Your safety lesson today is to hold on to the slicer with two hands. I cannot stress this point enough! Nor can I deny it is one of those lessons of life easily forgotten by people like me who are just too darned busy to take a deep breath and consider the possible outcome.
This tendency (that is implanted deeply in each of my genes) is at the heart of many safety problems that rear its ugly head for myself and others. This tendency keeps doctors rich, ambulance chasers on the loose and hook makers (for newly-stubbied forearms) in business.
Because I was hovering twenty-some feet up in the air, partially in the man-lift and partially on the tin roof, I used just one hand to operate the slicer while the other hand (minus two fingers, another story for another day. Page 512 in Ben’s safety manual) was locked with a death grip to the man-lift basket.
You know you just can’t be too careful. I say that all the time. Or at least I should.
Little did I know that in the next few seconds I was going to come within an inch of bleeding out with a severed femoral artery.
The slicer didn’t like the way I was holding it (one-handed) so it decided to set itself free and go on it’s own merry way. The metal-destroying, “spinning at 10,000 rpm’s” disc took off from the bolt head being cut and made it’s way in a straight and impressive manner quickly across the bin roof.
I no longer had control of the screaming, flesh-eating machine as it did a little skimming action across my Levi’s in the left-hand lane, or I should say, the left-leg lane. Immediately the Navy blue material turned Blood red. I found out once again that it doesn’t take much time at all for my carnivorous slicer to cover a lot of territory to find some red meat after being released from two-handed control.
I refused to release my grip on the man-lift but was more than happy to let go of the slicer. Luckily, the blood wasn’t spurting. I’ve had spurts before and I can tell you without question they freak you out. Elapsed time to jump in your rig, spool it up to maximum RPM’s and cover the distance to the nearest hospital immediately becomes your top and only priority.
I found out later that this particular “slice” was just over the femoral artery. If it had been a bit deeper, there’s a good chance my bloody fuel gauge would have read empty by the time I made it to the ground floor via the man lift. Five or six minutes is all it takes for a femoral artery to completely bleed out.
I guess another option in quickly dismounting the bin would have been to use good old gravity. My man-lift takes a minute or two to reach the ground. The gravity method from 24 feet up would have been much faster but the nanosecond travel and arrival might have generated another problem or two.
As soon as the two or three cells in my brain that are responsible for safety could dissuade the other two or three cells of my brain from the exciting idea of jumping, I steered away from the jump idea and transitioned my still-intact spirit and body to the ground via the man-lift. I then hobbled toward my pickup.
A stranger had just pulled into the yard and actually heard my weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth during the incident while I was still up on top the bin. When we crossed paths at ground level, he asked me if he should get his first-aid kit in his truck. I thought it might be a good idea since I had seen a little blood on my pantaloons and knew I didn’t have a kit in mine. I don’t know who he was but I’ll call the Good Samaritan uh…Sam.
I’m 62 years old. When I’m feeling healthy, I think I’m going to live forever so who needs a first-aid kit? Or, if I’m having a bad day and run into an accident, I look forward to meeting the grim reaper and I don’t want any first-aid kits blocking my path.
Either way, I see no reason to pack a kit to try to extend the darkening dusk of my fore-ordained existence any longer than necessary. Furthermore, why haul something around that is just going to take up space in my vehicle when I could be using that same space for a six-pack of pop or a stash of candy bars I acquired last week and am trying to hide from my wife?
Sam brought his kit, I dropped my pants and we both gazed in horror. Then we saw the injury.
For the squeamish I’ve downsized the pic.
Still doesn’t look bad for you? Full-sized picture is located at the bottom of this post after my clarification of the $500 drawing. If you are faint of heart, don’t continue past that point. I’ll post another warning if you are forgetful like me.
I noticed that Sam suddenly looked much less like Geronimo than when we first met and more like a pale face. He reinforced my observation when he shakily uttered something to the effect that he didn’t do well in these type of situations.
I told him to look away and grabbed some gauze out of the kit and placed it over the substantial scratch. I told him that he had to hang on and stay conscious. I gave him instructions about wrapping some tape around the gauze and leg since I’m kind of an expert from way back.
He was able to complete his duties before passing out. I thanked him and quickly hobbled across the lot. I’m not sure Sam heard my appreciation and I didn’t have the time to look back to see if he was still upright or down for the count.
My son Mike just happened to be hanging around this very location so I hitched a ride with him to the hospital. I told him not to rush as I wanted to have enough time to post pictures on Facebook. It worked perfectly as I had 12 comments and 23 “likes” by the time we arrived at the medical facility. I couldn’t have asked for anything more at that point.
During our transport, I changed our itinerary from Lourdes hospital to Lourdes Urgent Care clinic. This astute decision on my part netted a reduction in my bill by several thousand dollars before even arriving.
We parked and I hobbled toward the impressive and expensive-looking medical facility.
However, we were not welcomed with open arms. All the doors were locked and the names of the offices were labeled with long medical terms that I couldn’t pronounce even on a good day without any bleeding. Finally, I desperately banged on one of the doors and told the lady who appeared that I needed help. She said “This isn’t Urgent Care. You need to go out the double doors and it’s straight ahead.”
I was confused because we had just come in that way. Mike and I went back out through the double doors and looked around. There was nothing but a large empty room with stairs and an elevator. I realized then that the lady giving us directions was either not all that bright or she was just trying to prank us. My life was slipping away outside her double doors and she was playing a joke at my expense!
Who would do that?! Then I realized I probably would if it was on a different day and somebody else had the big slice in their pants and a trail of blood in their wake.
I love pranks. However, pranks can be deadly if not properly planned and performed by a professional. I consider myself to be one of the best. David Day, the big wheel at American Standard Manufacturing out of New York which manufactures propane equipment will verify that I am an expert and he is a mere novice.
Details of this learning experience for David can be found in my company’s safety manual on pages 385-387 which is available on Amazon. The manual is titled Recovering Idiot. It is 523 pages of safety tips of every kind.
Anyway, back to the problem of finding the Urgent Care clinic…
About the time I was trying to figure out if the lady was pranking me, Mike looked through the outside doors and saw another building across the parking lot, just in front of where our car was parked. The building was labeled with a huge sign declaring URGENT CARE.
I felt bloody stupid hobbling back across the bloody parking lot since we had bloody parked directly in front of the bloody big sign. (My ancestors are from England and after yesterday’s events I can relate better with them and their language)
We went in and the doctor had me stitched up in a quick hour. The nurse checked my normally sky-high blood pressure and it was 110 over 70, even with all the needles they were sticking in me. I haven’t had a BM, I mean a BP that low since I shadowboxed in the fly weight division. I’ve been fighting my mid-drift bulge and blood pressure numbers in the heavy weight class for 30 years now and was shocked to hear the low numbers.
Either their BP machine was calibrated to make the patients artificially happy or I had dropped enough red liquid to drop the pressure to where it should be all the time. After this, whenever I take a physical I’m going to get the old slicer out and do whatever is necessary to drop the systolic-diastolic numbers like the other day. I can probably knock $50 a year off my life insurance premiums with the lower count. Maybe I’ll give the $50 to my wife and tell her it’s from the safety company.
The clinic’s blood pressure machine performed far above my expectations and the personnel were very pleasant. However, soon I understood why they charged so much less than the hospital. You will too in a second.
After leaving Urgent Care, I went to Walmart to get some antibiotics. As I walked toward the pharmacy, I felt the wrap and bandage that had just been installed on my thigh slide down to my ankle. Do you have any idea how hard it is for a fat old guy to bend over and pull his thigh bandage back up from his ankle while not bending his leg for fear of ripping out the stitches?
But then again, I guess you see that sort of thing at Walmart all the time.
The doctor had said I was not to go back to work under any circumstances. After he left, the nurse told me to keep it elevated.
Mike drove me back to my work site. Following the nurses instructions, I crawled up on the man-lift while trying to keep my stitches from stretching and ascended the 24 feet back up to the top of the bin. I felt pretty good that I had a machine that was able to help me follow the nurses instructions to keep it elevated. And, since I was already up there, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to cut a few more bolt heads.
For the rest of the afternoon, I cut bolts. With two hands on the slicer.
Feel free to share the post!
A national trade magazine that I advertise in every month has said they might use my story for their August edition. It’s their Safety edition.
This could be your Safety Edition…
Not much time left to be in the running for 500 bucks that soon will be transferred from my clinched fist to somebody’s excited and sweaty palm! If your name is drawn and you have neglected to become eligible, you are going to have a hard time living with yourself and your empty pockets for at least a day or two.
30 seconds is all it takes to sign up. Do it before JULY 15th! Read past posts for details. Contrary to a previous delirious post I made about drawing 3 times every Saturday, I’m changing the rules back to the way it was when I initially outlined the giveaway.
I AM DRAWING ONE TIME AND ONE TIME ONLY EACH WEEK (Every Saturday) UNTIL AN ELIGIBLE WINNER IS DRAWN.
Caution: My injury is just below in living color.
Last chance to look away. Picture of the nasty slice is just below. Just so you know.
I don’t want anyone mad at me for posting an R-rated picture. You cannot say I didn’t warn you.
Just kidding. It’s further down.