After high school I worked at a big box discount store. I attended a local college and was able to live at home and work part-time – lucky me! Anyway, before leaving for work one afternoon I was roped into helping my mom wash windows. She was struggling to open (or close) a window and while she pushed outside on one sash I pulled on the other from the inside. The ‘stuck window’ broke free and then I managed to smash both of my thumbs between the panes (which should be called pains). Needless to say, I was injured. Both thumbs were bleeding; both thumb nails were split and the ensuing pain was intolerable. BUT YOU CAN NEVER CALL IN SICK TO WORK. Or so was the mantra of my parents (who grew up during the depression and lived through WWII).
It turns that opposable thumbs do give us humans a distinct advantage over other species. I couldn’t tie my own shoes. Driving was more than a bit of a challenge (in retrospect my bandaged thumbs were custom-made for hitch hiking). Eating was nearly impossible. Opening a door was comical. But by golly I reported to work as scheduled!
While deflecting questions about “what happened” and avoiding stares from customers and co-workers I quietly sulked and performed my duties (to the best of my abilities). I was assigned to the Paint and Hardware Department so carrying gallons of paint with my thumbs bandaged was particularly challenging. As I was carrying a can of paint, with both thumbs outstretched to the sky, a cute young co-worker from the Health and Beauty Aids Department happened by. She saw me, took one look, and a with a wink and a giggle, proclaimed to all that could hear, “Thumbs up!” With that she skipped off completely pleased with herself, laughing all the way. While I initially fumed, I soon began to realize the absurdity of the situation and my appearance and I began to laugh, too.
The truth is I was intrigued by her quick wit and captivated by her smile. I hunted her down in a stockroom, called her a smartass and then we both had a good laugh. Laughing at myself eased my pain. It’s amazing how cathartic self-deprecation can be. And that beautiful young lady helped me to see that all those years ago.
I think about her often. And the day that changed my life. You see I married the girl from Health and Beauty Aids. And I thank God that she still makes me laugh today (usually at myself).