Janet Combs

Janet Combs

I’m not sure any injury is premeditated or deliberate, but many accidents in and around the home can be anticipated and prevented, I believe, with the use of proper safety gear, combined with a personal state of focus. This is why we have oven mitts in the kitchen, flame-resistant gloves by the hearth, and safety glasses in the shop. It is also why we should quit working when we become too tired to pay attention.

The Planet Janet Research Team has conducted a test between Thanksgiving and Christmas over the past thirty years, and found that forced, late-night baking after a full day of work in order to participate in the office cookie exchange increases your risk of oven-rack burns on the backs of your hands by 84%.

The Planet Janet Research Team is stymied, however, by the incident last weekend at the gas station near the Home Depot on Route 17. Nonetheless, they were quick to point out, “You could have put your eye out.” Sometimes, in the instant before an accident happens, you can tell something harmful is going to occur, but it’s usually too late to stop yourself from tumbling down the stairs, stepping through the drywall in the attic, or falling from a ladder. But in this case, I really did not know what hit me. Though I certainly should have known, because I was involved in the loading of the two-by-fours into the back of our truck. My husband and I decided to take a trip to Home Depot one night after work to procure the wood we’d need to finish rebuilding our front steps. He was physically exhausted after a day of demolishing our old, rotted steps and I was similarly fatigued from a day of copying and scanning documents. The lure of the Chick-Fil-A sandwich dinner at the end of the obligatory Home Depot run was enough to keep us going. I don’t know what they put in the Chick-Fil-A sandwich but a random drug test would likely find my husband and I have high levels of honey-roasted barbecue sauce in our systems and are thus banned from being named to the Home Improvement Hall of Fame.

First, we had to pick out and stack the wood we needed onto one of those wobbly orange carts, then walk it out into the dimming dusk of the parking lot, where my husband cut several boards with his handy battery-powered circular saw in order to fit them into the truck. We needed the 12-foot handrail boards as they were, so they jutted out of the truck bed, secured with bungee cords.

On our way to Chick-Fil-A, we decided to stop for gas. “I’ll pump it,” I offered, and jumped nimbly from the passenger seat. For some reason, I am ludicrously enthralled with how infrequently I now have to stop for gas with my hybrid vehicle, as well as with my mileage and total gas cost. I yanked the receipt from the gas pump and strode around the back of the truck, looking down at the receipt so that I could gloat to my husband on how much less gas I had put in my vehicle a month ago.

BAM! I was stopped in my tracks—stunned by a blow to the bridge of my nose. My husband later said he heard a loud thump, felt the truck move, and thought I had decided to rearrange the boards.

Which I did. With my face.

I stumbled backward, tears from my eyes. I felt the searing pain of embarrassment, primarily. I got back into the truck, explaining I had just walked full-force into the two-by-fours.

“That was your FACE?” my husband said. “Are you okay?”

I had to laugh. “Did anyone see me?” I said.

“Are you kidding?” he said, “Everybody saw you.”

The truth hurts. Fortunately, it was nothing that a “#1 Deluxe” couldn’t fix.

Janet Combs is a freelance writer living in Georgetown County. Contact her at www.janetfrickecombs.wordpress.com.