Monday, May 30, 2011

I Was Merely Conducting An Experiment

note: this post will possibly either gross you out or make you spit your coffee through your nose onto the computer screen.

Sometimes during our journey that is life, we take an avoidable detour from the beaten or unbeaten path that we're traveling on. Sometimes that avoidable detour is not our fault, which is usually a good thing, and sometimes that avoidable detour is our fault, which is never a good thing.

Today's post will be focusing on the second part of that last sentence.

I have been cursed by the fact that all of the beaten, burned, bruised, battered, broken, sliced and shredded body parts (internal and external) I've suffered through during my 46 years on this planet, all but one (kidney stones) have been through the direct result of what I like to call "The Self Inflicted Stupidity Syndrome".

One of those annoying aspects of this particularly insidious disease is answering the inevitable questions that come up when people see you walking around with your arm in a sling, or your hand heavily bandaged, or some other malady that is highly visible.

Please note, I said, "people", not "family and/or friends". With family and friends, they know exactly what kind of S.I.S.S. you went through and thus know better than to ask you why. With strange people who happen to be nosy (about 98% of the general public), it becomes more difficult to deal with.


Let us use me as a prime example. Because most of the people I've dealt with over the years who have asked these personal questions have been through my various retail jobs, trying to find a way to tell people "to mind your own F'n business" without getting into trouble was an exercise in creativity.

For instance, I have in the past eighteen years, twice fractured my pinkie knuckle. On each hand, I might add. And each time I did it, I got stupid questions and/or insulting comments about it.

The first time it happened ('92), we won't discuss because no ignorant members of the human race bothered me about it. All they did was express disappointment that I couldn't personally wait on them hand and foot. The second time is where all the fun begins. Winter 1998. Bad snowstorm. No phone service. Called Ma Bell about it numerous times during one calendar week to get it restored (later found out that they never put me on the repair list). Anyways, after one particular infuriating call at work in which I once again got the runaround by Ma Bell, I decided to step outside my work area to calm down. Outside the photo copy department were three pallets of copy paper. Being in a particularly pissed off state of mind, I punched one of the boxes.

Ten seconds later, I poked my head in my work area and told my co-worker that I was going to the E.R. to get my broken hand looked at. Went to the E.R. where some three hours later, I walked out the door sans original wedding band (is probably somewhere in the Hartford sewer system) but with a cheesy half cast wrapped up in an ace bandage and in a sling.


Anyways, at the time, I was working for a now defunct Connecticut grocer called Shaws (yah, I know they're not really defunct, they just wussied out and pulled out of Connecticut when they couldn't compete stores like Stop & Shop) as a cashier, and yes, it was an irritating six weeks trying to ring/scan items with a broken hand. However, what made it really irritating was the fact that people would ask me questions about my hand, especially when I'd tell them that I really didn't want to talk about. I had one jerk, who keep on asking me what part of my arm did I break because I wouldn't answer him. Apparently he was socially inept or something because the longer I gave him the silent treatment, the more invasive the questions became.


I do want to mention that how I handled it at day job was a lot different than how I handled it at part time job. At day job, a lot of people were telling me to file for worker's comp because I got injured at work. Fair enough, but since it was my own DAMN fault, filing was out of the question. So what I did when I got tired of people asking me the question was pure comedic inspiration on my part.

I said this:

"What happened was while I was walking by the pallets of paper, a few boxes jumped out and began attacking me. Naturally, I tried defending myself to the best of my ability, so I started punching back. Most of the boxes were empty, but one was not. A punch that I threw connected with the non-empty box and presto! broken pinkie knuckle!"


Betcha wondering about the title and how it correlates to this post, right? My friends, here is an early sample of G's legendary sarcasm in action.

Back in the late 80's, I was working as a cashier for another defunct grocery chain called "Heartland Food Warehouse" (owned by the same geniuses who owned the now defunct Pathmark stores). One night, I nuked some Dinty Moore stew and when I took it out of the microwave, I grabbed it by the lid. You can see where this is going right? Anyways, I immediately stuck my hand under the sink to wash off the 150+ degree liquid gravy off my wrist and to kill the pain.

When I'd finished, I had a nifty blister on my wrist near the base of my palm. So after temporarily losing my mind by putting a bandaid on it (not all late 20 year olds think they're impervious to pain you know), I went to work the next day. And sure enough, I had a few co-workers ask me, once they saw the bandaid, what happened.

Since I was in full blown S.I.S.S., I decided right away to stop the questioning cold. The conversation went something like this:

Co-worker: How come you got a bandaid on your wrist?
Me: Blister.
Co-worker: From what?
Me: Well, I was always curious on what the temperature was for skin to start burning, so I thought I would try a little experiment by pouring some hot gravy on my wrist.
Co-worker: gives me a very strange look and hurriedly walks away.
Folks, there is no known cure for the Self Inflicted Stupidity Syndrome. We all suffer from it as it's part of our DNA structure. Oh sure, you may think you don't have it, but deep down, you do. You just don't know it. It lays dormant, waiting for that perfect moment where you create that truly memorable faux pas that doesn't quite go viral on YouTube or isn't quite worthy enough for those insipid reality shows, but is remembered by your family, your friends and your co-workers for years/decades to come.

And in the end, is that what we all really crave: acknowledgement from our peers that we did something so memorable that no matter what else we do in our life, we will be remembered for that.


  1. I once had a self-inflicted-stupidy injury of my own; bashed my head on something that left a gash on my forehead, I don't even recall the specifics. However, the evening of that event our drummer at the time showed up for band practice and asked how I'd gotten injured. I told him some guy had tried to rob our practice space and attached me with an ice pick; I'd successfully fought him off but received a flesh would for the trouble. Amazingly he believed me, and I maintained the ruse for a couple years before coming clean.

  2. Hey watch this ...

    I truly hope those are my last words on this planet.

  3. If they gave out awards for SISS, I would definitely deserve one :)

    And people can never stop at just one question and answer, can they?

  4. LOL @ the gravy conversation! All of my injuries have had stupid explanations. Fractured/sprained my ankle so badly the dr said it would have been better if I had broken it: tripped on the sidewalk. Sprained the same ankle really badly again a few years later: fell down the stairs with the vacuum cleaner.

    Bad burn on my leg that left a scar for a few years: my cat knocked a bowl of soup into my lap.

    It would be really nice to be able to say, oh, that I had a kickboxing injury.

  5. So you are like the Cooler of grocery chains. The competition could hire you to put the other guy out of business

  6. Chris: Ouchies. And it was probably a good thing that your skills as a writer were on display that day so that you could deliver such a fine upstanding bending of the truth so convincingly. :D

    Travis: Great last words. Mine would probably be something along the lines of "What would happen if I did this?"

    Talon: I swear, sometimes you wind up like a broken record trying to come up with an answer that makes a person shut up and go away without making them mad.

    I think we all deserve a lifetime achievement SISS award for our adventures.

    R: Nice.

    I've had a few more almost as memorable as the examples I've stated, including:

    1) Opening a roll of quarters with my head.

    2) Giving myself a pounding headache when I tried to break a thick twig with my forehead and it didn't break.

    Bearman: Absolutely. Hire me, and I promise that you'll be out of business within six months. :D

  7. You should have sued those boxes. I bet you could have gotten a nice settlement.

  8. Charles: Yeah, a settlement of copy paper for life with a bonus of two tons of cardboard. :D

  9. I just lost a toenail to SISS - and I don't remember how I did it. Yesterday I dropped the edge of a stone table I was moving onto the same toe on the other foot - this time I remember the SISS. :)

  10. I am a fellow S.I.S.S. sufferer. And, I have yet to live down injuring myself by dropping a frozen burrito on my foot.

  11. Lynn: I've done that too numerous times to mention. I can truly sympathize with you.

    Mama Z: A frozen burrito? I'm almost afraid to ask what kind of damage was done.

  12. Seriously! OK, there is hope for me yet. Either that, or we start a club.

  13. R: There's hope for every one of us. :D

  14. I dropped a scalpel into my foot. I had a nice fountain of blood from that and I stuck a pin in the top of a can of spray mount causing glue to spray into my eyes, sticking my eyelids together. :D

  15. I can relate. I picked up a teapot full of just-boiled water in a stupid way and burned one hand quite badly, in front of my whole extended family. I was practically passing out from the pain, but I tried as hard as I could not to show any signs of distress because I was so damn embarrassed. I kind of figured I didn't deserve any sympathy.

  16. Joe: The only that I can even match up with your scalpel (can't even touch the spray glue) is when I sliced off my finger tip with a table top paper cutter.

    S.R.: Holy cow! You would've definitely got sympathy from me if I was there.

  17. I like that you came up with some very creative answers to frighten the question folks off...

    Decades ago I broke a pinky finger on a car door that quickly swung back after not staying open- don't know why I stuck my finger in the way instead of the heel of my hand. Yes I do, some one was speaking to me, so I was watching their lips to understand what they were saying- not paying attention. Same syndrome- Yes, I think we all do have it-
    Very amusing story!

  18. Snaggle: Thanks.

    I did the exact same thing once when I was a kid. The car door was open, so a nifty little hole to stick my finger in, then someone shut the door. Didn't break my finger but it sure hurt for the next week or so.

  19. I'm like Chris...I'd make up really wild stories. ;)

  20. Lana: Glad to see you again.

    Sometimes, the far fetched is a heck of lot more enjoyable than the truth.

  21. I also like to call it "hold my beer and watch this!"

    good for a morning laugh, thanks!

  22. Bruce: You're more than welcome for the Friday morning chuckle.


Go on, give me your best shot. I can take it. If I couldn't, I wouldn't have created this wonderful little blog that you decided to grace with your presence today.

About that comment moderation thingy: While yes, it does say up above I can take it, I only use it to prevent the occasional miscreant from leaving thoughtless and/or clueless comments.

So remember, all of your comments are greatly appreciated and all answers will be given that personal touch that you come to expect and enjoy.

G. B. Miller

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