I remember riding along the 10 freeway decades ago on a motorcycle sitting behind a guy named……………It’ll come to me ! Maybe tonight in my sleep , or two weeks from now in the middle of dinner , or two years from now while I’m painting the garage . That’s how I roll ! My memory process is meticulous ! This guy was a friend of a friend. I can picture his face . It’s in there somewhere , all of this forgotten information , but it comes out only when it wants to. Doesn’t necessarily respect my schedule .
That’s why I figure I never would have made a good courtroom lawyer . What ? The judge and jury sit and wait while my memory banks shut down for maintenance , and I’m left to tell the judge : ” It’s on the tip of my tongue , Your Honor “. No , that doesn’t work in a trial . Time is money and justice is waiting anxiously to be done . I know this from my jury duty experiences .
I might have made it well enough as a politician , but I would have to have one of those toady shadow -assistants who constantly whisper vital information while pretending that they’re not even in the room , leaning toward the boss’s ear , quietly chattering. I’d have to have one of those people so I’ll know just what to say at any given moment . I’ve seen this in action only once, and for me it was an education . There was a School Board person who had a shadow man in a dark suit with a blank expression continuously whispering to her what to say . She went on to be elected to the Los Angeles City Council , and I think she did just as crappy a job there as she had done on the School Board . No , on second thought , having a personal whisperer would creep me out way too much . Forget politics .
So , anyhow , the guy driving the bike too fast along the 10 was missing a thumb . He had decided one fateful day to remove the safety shield from his table saw . And , so , he ended up cutting off his thumb . I don’t remember just now how I met the guy , or what his name was . I remember all the info about the thumb , however .
I hadn’t seen my friend Ivan for five years . He lived on the east coast and I lived on the west coast at the time . When I saw him again I noticed that he was missing the tip of his little finger . Oh , it may have taken me a few days to notice . Ada probably would have noticed right away ; but me , I’m not so observant . Anyway , I mentioned my observation to Ivan and asked him to tell me what happened .
” I was working with another guy ,” he said , ” and I cut off all my fingers “. He told me the tale . His biggest problem , he said , was getting the other guy to straighten up enough to drive him to the hospital . Ivan had collected his severed fingers while his co-worker was getting sick . Ivan had put them in a plastic bag , but he missed finding the tip of the little finger .
The doctors sewed the fingers back on . Two years of therapy later he could use the hand . Ivan was a ship’s carpenter . Now he sells books . He still does carpentry , too , though , on the side . He built me a closet one time .
My friend Joe has done his share of carpentry , too . Joe never cut any fingers or thumbs off . Joe commented once that steel blades cut pretty quickly through flesh and that it’s not really a fair competition . He said that , not so much sardonically , I think , as fatalistically . A cautionary tale .
My woodworker friend and former landlord , Tom , who makes beautiful things , fainted dead away once when he cut into his thumb while working in his shop . I wasn’t there to see it . I hear the story every few years from one or another of our mutual friends . It was a deep cut but he got away with just a scar .
I saw a guy a long time ago renting a circular saw at Home Depot . He had a big careless smile on his face and way too much glee and a careless attitude , I thought . It was none of my business, really , but I told him a tale or two about slicing and dicing fingers and thumbs and told him seriously to count his fingers before every cut so he’d have the same number later . He immediately sobered up and thanked me for my unsolicited warning .