January 2013 #2: Why Adult Supervision Was Required (and Unavailable)
1. Welcome to the latest edition of the Summary of Mishaps, our umpteenth seminar on how not to do stuff.
A. Y'know what kids love? Swings. If you have a yard, you can make a cheap and easy version. All you need is a tree, an old tire and a long piece of heavy rope.
A fire controlman third class had all three and was ready to roll when he encountered his first snag. The ideal branch was 30 feet off the ground. He had to tie the rope to something heavy and heave it over the branch. He had a horseshoe that fit the bill, so he lashed on the rope and flung it skyward.
His 20-foot toss produced snag #2, which in this case was a literal snag-the horseshoe caught on a lower branch. Knowing that he had to yank it out and realizing that the horseshoe might come zinging right back at him, he took the precaution of stepping to the side before hauling back on the rope.
He gave a mighty tug. The horseshoe came loose and returned to terra firma. It missed the FC3 when it whizzed by, but bounced off a tree that was behind him and scored a direct hit on the back of his head.
Didn't hurt much, but it was bleeding pretty good, so his mom drove him to the nearest hospital where docs applied four staples to the gash.
Weird. I thought horseshoes were supposed to be lucky.
B. Same church, different pew. In Florida, a private first class was playing volleyball when the ball got stuck in a palm tree. He grabbed a canteen and threw it at the ball. The palm tree, which was apparently just getting warmed up, snagged the canteen, as well.
Muttering imprecations, the Marine grabbed the palm tree and commenced to shaking it (Gene, we need some ranting-and-raving sound effects here, I'm thinking Donald Duck or Yosemite Sam). The palm tree, taken back thought, "Well, if that's how you feel about it," and abruptly returned the canteen, which bonked the Marine on the forehead. He still didn't have his volleyball, but he did have a new laceration.
You never know when someone might ask, "Where'd you get that scar?" You want to have a reasonably macho explanation. So in the future, if you find yourself engaged in what the mishap report put as "Specific Activity: Volleyball/Tree shaking," consider a cranial.
C. An E-4 missileman technician was watching how to operate a guidance handling cart. I'm not sure exactly what that is, but I do know that it has a boom. How do I know? Because when the operator wasn't looking, the Sailor stuck his finger in a retaining-pin hole. The boom moved and chopped off the tip of his finger.
One of my on-going scenes with my parents when I was little was when they would show me something and I'd demand, "Let me see it!" and hold out my hands. They'd say something like, "Are your eyes on your fingers?" Then they would refuse to hand it over so that I could get my grubby little hands on it. Trust me, my brother and I spent enough time playing in the dirt so that the adjective "grubby" was appropriate.
Here's the deal. If you find yourself observing a process, especially involving machinery, keep to your role. If sticking your finger into something is part of the demo, the operator will tell you.
D. A lance corporal was at home, shooting his pistol BB gun. He didn't have any old lightweight, amateur bb gun. No, he was sporting a .177 caliber, CO2-powered, semi-automatic pistol with a muzzle velocity of 480 feet per second. The manufacturer's web site contains the following warning: "Not a toy. Adult supervision required. Misuse or careless use may cause serious injury or death. Be careful, shoot safely."
The Marine tried to clear the gun, and then (the report said) he "fired into hand to see if it was clear." He was soon en route to a naval hospital with a bb embedded in his hand.
A week of ill-deserved light duty ensued. You've got to wonder, wasn't there a better target handy? A trash can, a lawn chair, a picnic table, a flower pot, a tree, a plastic toy, a pigeon, an empty drink can? Or at least someone to ask for suggestions (someone mentally an adult, as opposed to just chronologically an adult)?
2. That's it for this week, sports fans. See you next time.
January 2013 #1: Unexpectedly Pitched Overboard in the Dark (a.k.a., Why to Wear a Life Preserver)
Got a Funnies-worthy yarn? Need to get something off your chest? Send us your feedback: email@example.com
Subscribe to Summary of Mishaps -- Email your request and mailing address to firstname.lastname@example.org
Glossary of Specialized Terms | Summary of Mishaps Museum Exhibits