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You’re Coming Back Aren’t You?

May 19, 2021

It was an odd question. And a potentially scary one. It was my first day working in a custom cabinet shop. I was 21 and just back from a mission for the Mormon church. I was working at a summer job to earn money for college in the Fall.

I was working in the cabinet shop, but I wasn’t a cabinetmaker. I wasn’t even a woodworker. I was basically unskilled labor. I swept up. I ran errands. I lifted and carried. The only woodworking task I was allowed to perform was sanding. Hand sanding, no pneumatic or power tools.

And in a custom cabinet shop there are lots of things to sand. We made everything, cabinets, cabinet doors, interior and exterior doors. Many of the doors were panel doors. You know, the doors with an inset. They often have six inset panels.

I have six panel doors in my house. But, they aren’t solid wood. they are preformed hollow doors. They are made printed more than cut. And unlike the preformed doors, the natural wood doors need to be sanded. That’s where I came in. The process, in case you’ve never had the pleasure is to take a piece of sandpaper, fold it in half and then sand every inch of the door panels. It’s slow, tedious, but not especially dangerous work.

And it’s hard to screw it up. That’s why they assigned it to me.

I screwed it up.

I didn’t intend to, and it’s not because I did anything wrong. It’s a solid wood door. And solid wood means splinters. My sandpaper caught a bit of wood and quickly separated not just a splinter, but a skewer. It cut the pad of my little finger right hand. It then went completely through the meaty part of my ring finger and finally embedded it’s top into my middle finger. And then it broke off from the door. Al together about three inches of what was formally a part of the door was imbedded in my fingers.

Clearly I needed medical attention. The foreman asked me if I could drive myself to the hospital.

Yeah, I’ll be okay

Are you coming back?

What do you mean? Do I still have a job?

Yeah, it’s just that the last guy we hired to do your job quit after the first day.

Really? Why?

Said he didn’t like sawdust.

Oh, and I sat in the emergency room waiting area for three hours holding my skewered hand. I finally got to be seen when there was an accident on the freeway and they needed the room. A doctor looked at my hand, grabbed some tweezers and pulled the splinter out. He then slapped on a bandage and told me to come back if I noticed any discomfort.

Nope. No discomfort. I still have the scar. And I worked at that job a summer.

Sawdust is man glitter.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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