When I worked at Bell Canada we attended regular safety meetings. The telephone company maintained a library of health and safety training material in assorted formats. Topics covered the entire range of job descriptions and work environments that might be encountered while employed with the company, but most of them did not apply to those of us who worked in clerical functions.
Because meetings were held on a regular schedule, applicable material was exhausted quickly and before long we were in to re-runs. Every winter we saw the film strip on Driving Safety. We could recite verbatim how to lift properly. Since Slips, Trips, and Falls was the first module in the series on office safety, it was the unit that got the most air time.
I appreciated the intent behind health and safety in the workplace, and though we may have mocked the monthly meetings, I took the information to heart. If I see an elastic band on the floor, I pick it up. I’m also diligent about wiping spills and keeping passage ways well-lit.
My approach to corporate seminars was not much different from my public or Sunday school classes. I paid attention, soaked up the information as if my life depended on it. After all, in some cases it did! You might say I was zealous. Others might say I was a pain in the butt.
All of this good policy, however, has not kept me safe. I’ve had my share of injuries over the years, and most have been slips, trips, and falls. Part 1 of this series described the most recent tumble three years ago when I seriously sprained my ankle doing nothing more elaborate than walking.
My first fall, however, was a doozy.
When I was nine, I had a bedroom to myself. It opened on to a second-storey balcony. We kids sometimes “camped” out if the weather allowed, but for the most part there was no need to venture outside my bedroom.
One summer evening, the family was getting ready to take in a drive-in movie, The Three Lives of Thomasina. My cousin Judy was staying with us and the excitement level was cranked a notch or three above normal. As we waited for departure time, Judy and I played in the bedroom, but soon found ourselves out on the balcony. We noticed the vinyl wading pool below, partially filled from when Dad watered the newly seeded lawn. When we spit with enough force and volume, the ripples in the water made the cartoon patterns wriggle in an appealing fashion.
Much giggling and tee-heeing. “OOH, that’s a good one! Let me try!” said, Judy.
“OK, my turn!” I said, as I intended to make my next volley world-class. I took a running start from the far side of the balcony, threw myself into the act… and threw myself over the railing.
All I can remember of the downward passage was after the landing when I lifted my head to let out an enormous bellow. Neighbours from several houses away came running to see who was hurt. Mr. White from next door carried me inside and mom called the doctor.
After a brief conference, I was declared fit to see the show.
There was no follow-up appointment. I might have had a headache or some stiffness, but I cannot recall any immediate consequence of the fall, other than a scraped chin from hitting the metal eaves-trough.
As for long-range consequences, there have been plenty.
Of course it could have been much worse. That corner of the yard was normally used to store bikes, yard implements, and the BBQ. That day, however, Dad had moved everything aside to turn the earth in preparation for new grass seed. I had a soft landing.
Thomasina was not the only one blessed with multiple lives.
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I have decided to serialize a piece I feel compelled to write in order to explore an unpleasant exchange with my husband last weekend. One or two more short pieces will complete the back story.