March 2013 #4: A Fond Farewell (Gene, Please Cue up "Auld Lang Syne")
1. Welcome to the latest edition of the Summary of Mishaps, another rapid-fire tutorial on risk mismanagement and mediocre headwork.
A. Aboard an auxiliary ship anchored in Norfolk, an E-7 was “setting up the ship for a training event,” the report explained. Part of his task involved walking into a darkened space. He didn’t stay there very long because he stepped on a damaged deck plate and fell 13 feet to the space beneath. He was able to limp away with a sprained ankle.
The report didn’t say why he hadn’t turned on the lights, or what the training event was going to cover. In retrospect, this was a real missed opportunity, because if they could have gotten everyone there early and in their seats, quietly waiting in the dark, they could have had some extremely dramatic training on shipboard falls, hazard communications and safety barriers.
B. Time for another Summary of Mishaps one-liner, those gems of mishap reportage that speak for themselves. This time, we visit a shipyard, where a firefighter “slipped on wet stairs while at the scene of a sprinkler activation.” He injured his lower back.
At least it wasn’t an unexpected hazard.
C. If there’s one thing that elicits a resounding “Onnnkkk!’ from my Risk-O-Matic, it’s the phrase “drinking game.”
Yes, drinking is legal. Yes, a lot of people do it. Yes, all the ads for it make it look like a blast, with good-looking young people yukking it up to no end. But once you’ve been around enough DUI arrests and alcoholics, it starts to seem more like the serious activity that it really is.
Which brings us to a naval air crewman second class, who was at home, playing a drinking game with some of his friends. A bottle cap ended up in the bottom of a glass of beer that he was obliviously chugging. The cap then migrated to his throat, and suddenly he couldn’t breathe.
Another Sailor tried the Heimlich maneuver, and the E-5 swallowed the cap (Note to self: research “reverse Heimlich maneuver,” explain to readers in later message).
Now in full buzz-kill mode, someone drove him to a hospital. “Surgery was not required,” the report said. He’ll just have some explaining to do the next time he sets off the alarm at an airport X-ray machine.
D. On a sad note this week, we bid farewell to a ubiquitous character who needs no introduction to longtime readers, namely our sound-effects czar, Gene. His skillful insertion of imaginary sound effects has added that extra layer of realism to hundreds of Friday Funnies items through the years.
He cued up the clip-clops, coyote howls and wistful harmonica music that was the patented introduction to our occasional visits to the Not-O.K. Corral. He piped in the theme from “Final Jeopardy” as yet another hapless subject considered a boneheaded move. All those Tarzan yells, the overripe tomatoes hitting floors, the impending-doom sound effects when another drunk guy wandered out on a balcony, the whistling teapot when a Sailor or Marine blew his stack and punched a bulkhead—that was all Gene’s important, behind-the-scenes work.
I’m sure you join with me in expressing how much we’ll miss his tireless efforts. Such as right now, when I have to figure out how to pipe in a suitable farewell melody. Let’s see, throw this switch, push that toggle. Ahh, there it is: “Happy trails to you, until we meet again…”
2. Feel free to sing along. I’ll see everyone (except Gene) next week.