Friday, August 27, 2010

Memory Lane Friday - A Goof at Work

This week's Memory Lane Friday topic is "A Goof at Work." Now, I usually have the Memory Lane Friday post written on Thursday evening and then schedule it to automatically post on Friday morning. But I was so scatterbrained last night after being out of town for a week and a half, I'd forgotten it was Thursday. Oops! Here it is, now!

This particular incident happened when I was still on active duty. I had just been stationed in Tucson, AZ, having been on active duty only about 8 months at this point. I'd actually been in Tucson for only a month or two.

Anyway, Staff Sergeant "F," my NCO, and I were in a career field called "Logistics Plans" and were, among other things, in charge of a large number of materials. This included a large number of pallets and nets, a part of what's known as the 463L pallet cargo system. These pallets and the accompanying nets (top and side nets) are what keep cargo secure when loaded into military cargo aircraft, such as a C-130, as seen below.
A Hercules C-130. Photo by TSgt Howard Blair, USAF.

A pallet is what the cargo sits on. It has rings on each side where the top net, side nets, and tie-downs hook onto, keeping the cargo secure. A single pallet is 88" x 108" and 2 1/4" thick. They're made of aluminum, with a fiberglass core. Empty, a single pallet (without nets or cargo) weighs nearly 300 pounds (290 pounds, if I remember correctly). 

So they're heavy, right? 

Usually, to move them around, someone trained on a forklift would use a forklift to move these pallets from one place to another. A single pallet could be used by a hand-operated jack thingy, if you needed to move one on the floor from one spot to another.

Anyway, SSgt "F" and I were responsible for a whole warehouse of equipment, and we'd inherited it with a lot of "fixer-upper" projects and organization to be accomplished. 

So one morning, we'd headed over to the warehouse to begin organizing everything, and checking equipment to see what was good to go, and what needed to be repaired or replaced. 

We'd taken a few other people from our office over to have some extra helping hands. Now, since we had a few pallets stored improperly on the floor, we needed to move them. We didn't have access to a forklift at the moment, and the pallet jack was broken (one of the items on our ever-growing "to do" list was to get it fixed).

What could we do? Get people on each side of the pallet to carry it over to where it needed to be stored. 

Well . . . since I was new, I didn't have work gloves yet, nor did I have steel-toe boots . . . and the guy that could hook me up with this stuff was unavailable for a week or two.

But I wanted and needed to help . . . I'm sure you're getting the idea that the "goof at work" is coming up soon, right? So what did I do? 

I borrowed a pair of work gloves - a pair of men's sized gloves, that were obviously too big for me, with extra material hanging off each finger. 

And then I jumped in there to help the guys move the pallet by hand. 

If I remember correctly, I think we had a couple pallets to move, as I mentioned before. Now that I really think about it, maybe two of 'em? 

We moved one no problem. Then we moved the other. 

And that's when the "goof at work" occurred. 

Oh, boy. When we moved the other and set it down, we counted "1, 2, 3" and set it down. When we did that, and I pulled my hands out from under the pallet, the 290 pound pallet, a bit of extra material off my right hand's pointer finger got caught. The tip of my finger, therefore, momentarily got caught under the pallet.


Did that hurt like a you-know-what!! 

It felt like hitting your funny-bone really hard. Must've been the nerves in the tip of my finger, but it made me dizzy. I broke out instantly in a clammy sweat (even though the humidity in the desert Southwest must've only been around 7%).

The guys asked "Hey, are you okay?" 

"Yeah, I'm okay." 

But the pain was THROBBING like mad, and I could feel it throbbing all the way up my arm. (I can feel "phantom pain" in my finger and up my arm, just recalling this incident!)

I'd taken the glove off, and my finger was already as big as a fat slug. Blech. 

I went and sat down in a corner of the warehouse. I'm not sure how long I sat there, but it felt like forever, but it must've been only a few minutes. 

Finally, I got up and helped with other stuff, as best I could with my right hand (the dominant one, of course) not working very well. 

When we headed back to the office, I stopped in the women's room to run some cold water on it. It was, by this point, gross looking, but I didn't think it was broken.

Of course, as soon as I sat down at my desk, I had somebody come in with paperwork for me to sign . . . oh joy! Now that was fun, with this big ol' swollen finger on my writing hand!

I did end up going to the clinic, at the urging of someone in my office. Definitely not broken . . . it just needed time to heal; the pain would go away when the swelling went down. 

Ouch! Definitely not a goof I'll forget! Oh, and by the way, I waited 'til I got my appropriately sized safety gear before helping out in the warehouse again!

Please click on the button below to read this week's other Memory Lane Friday posts!!
Check back next week when the Memory Lane Friday topic is "A Collection."

1 comment:

varunner said...

Oh ouch! That sounds so painful. It's crazy how many nerves are in the toes and fingers, you know? Glad it wasn't broken at least.

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