From the “Well, That Was Stupid!” file
Squandering Another Of My Nine Lives
Do we only get nine?
It was Friday, and our friends were on their way over, bringing the fish frys for dinner. There was a little fresh snow on the icy driveway, so it seemed that shoveling and salting were in order to minimize the likelihood of a slip and fall. Though well-preserved, our friends are no longer young.
Pushing the snow off the frozen asphalt, I went side to side, clearing slightly pie-shaped sections. The geometry of the task appealed to my sense of proper engineering.
A forceful push at the end of each section emptied the shovel for the next load. Halfway through the task, I put my weight into one of the ending pushes, and the shovel blade caught on a chunk of ice, frozen solid to the driveway.
The shovel stopped cold, but all the force that was supposed to hurl the snow onto the snowbank had to go somewhere. At that moment, I was standing on one of the ice tracks packed down by the car, so the forward inertia intended for the shovel was transferred to my feet. Suddenly, they were no longer under me.
Unable to float in the air for long, I landed hard, first on my butt, and then with a secondary bump as my head snapped back against the pavement.
“Shovel Kills Man” was the imagined headline.
“This must be how old people accidentally kill themselves,’’ I thought. Thankfully, my reflexes were quick enough to keep my head forward and almost without contact as I went down. Did I hear or imagine the mellow sound of a reverberant cranial cavity?
“You OK?” shouted the young woman across the street, who had been grabbing her mail.
“Yeah, I’m OK,” I answered, “or at least that’s what I’ll tell everyone.” She did not seem very concerned as she walked back into her house. I assumed that meant I was not terribly damaged.
After cautiously finishing shoveling, the driveway was salted and sanded. No more falls were experienced, and we had a nice evening with friends and a good brand of general anesthesia. Pinot Noir, I think.
The next day I was reminded of the incident by a sore butt, a very slight addition to my usually swollen head, and an unexpected soreness at the front of my neck. The unconscious and speedy reaction triggering the muscles which tilted my head forward may have kept what was a slightly rung bell from being a cracking noise.
I’ll take it! Those sore muscles, called to duty unexpectedly, saved my skull from proving how hard it was, and making it necessary to fill a dent in the driveway. And driveway repair is quite difficult in the winter.