Not for the squeamish


A warning: If you’re the squeamish sort, this column is probably not for you. I ain’t even looking forward to writing it.

On a fine Saturday evening in late February, I had some friends coming over to my house for dinner. After I cleaned up the house a bit, I found myself with a little extra time on my hands, so I decided to do something productive.

I had a little part I needed to clean, a metal tube with a narrow bore that was all gunked up. I put the tube in a dish of white vinegar and let it soak, and then I grabbed my pick set.

I bought this pick set at a hardware store awhile back and it has served me extremely well. It has all manner of little metal picks and hooks that are useful for a variety of applications. I pulled out the straight pick, screwed it into the handle, and began trying to clean the vinegar-softened gunk out of the metal tube.

The particular pick I was using is narrow at the tip and widens a bit as it goes. As I held the metal tube in my left hand and vigorously jabbed the pick into it, I was operating under the belief that the pick was too wide to pass through the tube’s bore.

As it turns out, I was mistaken.

All at once, the pick slid all the way through the tube and I felt a sudden strange sensation in my left hand.

“Huh,” I thought to myself.

I opened my hand to investigate.

The pick had punctured my hand at the base of my ring finger and traveled through the fleshy part of my palm. The tip was nearly poking out of the side of my hand. All in all, about two inches of metal were embedded in my palm (I later measured with a ruler, this is not an exaggeration).

Now folks, what I say next comes from a place of hard-earned experience: When you have just rammed two inches of metal spike through your hand, a number of observations pass through your mind within just a few seconds. I will now attempt to walk you through this thought process step-by-step:

  1. The initial reaction is one of pure confusion. “Huh,” you think to yourself, “I don’t remember having a metal pick sticking out of my hand before. That is certainly odd.”
  2. Within milliseconds, you realize that not only did you not have a metal pick sticking out of your hand before, but in fact you should not have a metal pick sticking out of your hand at all.
  3. For a brief second, a voice in your head will tell you that in a situation like this, you should either go to the hospital or attempt to remove the pick as slowly and carefully as possible.
  4. This voice is immediately overpowered and pushed down a flight of stairs by a second, much louder voice, which rushes into your brain and begins screaming “GET IT OUT GET IT OUT GETITOUT!”
  5. You haphazardly pull the metal pick from your hand, observing with both relief and confusion that there is no blood whatsoever.
  6. It occurs to you that if you just pulled two inches of metal out of your hand and it isn’t bleeding, that probably indicates a much larger problem.
  7. You realize that you should open and close your hand a few times and wiggle your fingers to make sure you have not damaged any important parts inside your hand. Surgeons refer to these parts as “important hand parts.”
  8. As you wiggle your fingers and open and close your hand, you begin to grow lightheaded. “That’s funny,” you think to yourself, “I didn’t remember the overhead light in my kitchen being at the end of a long, dark tunnel that is rapidly closing to an iris-like point.”
  9. You decide it’s probably a good idea to sit down.
  10. After you’re pretty sure your friends won’t arrive at your house to find you passed out on the kitchen floor, you grab a bottle of rubbing alcohol and pour some on the hole in your hand. This causes you to make a sound that startles the birds from the trees.
  11. After disinfecting and bandaging your hand, it occurs to you that while this is not an experience you would ever wish to repeat, on the plus side, you can probably get a halfway-decent column out of it.


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