Sunday, April 22, 2012

Kinda klutzy

I was at the Wildlife Festival today, getting set up, and my colleague, Matt, who we will later call "The guy with the turtle" and I are putting up posters. 

"So I fell out of an armored personnel carrier yesterday," I begin, to explain why I'm working one handed.
Matt stops me.  "I don't think I've ever been able to start a conversation with that exact phrase" he comments.

"So I fell out of an armored personnel carrier," I repeat, "and"
"Wait," said the guy with the turtle, "didn't you come in last month with a dislocated shoulder?"
"umm, yes."
"And the month before that," said the guy with the turtle, "didn't you have to report a workplace injury because you were washing your hands and..."
"Listen," I said, "I may be a klutz, but at least I don't live with a turtle.  So I fell out of this armored personnel carrier yesterday..."

Have you ever tried to climb into an armored personnel carrier?  This is the thing about armored personnel carriers.  They may be designed for a lot of things, but one thing for which they are not designed is ergonomic exits.  In fact, it is my personal belief that they deliberately designed those puppies to keep people from climbing in.  When in fact, what the design leads to, is mothers, trying to back down the ladder while taking a picture of their not-quite-three-year-old at the wheel, sort of, well, missing the steps.

The steps, by the way, which are apparently crafted of stainless steel cheese graters, or, as the case may be, hand-and-foot-graters.

It was Wheel Day, you see.  Wheel Day is the day where the preschool has all these trucks and cars come visit, for the kids to climb around in.  Bulldozers and firetrucks and buses and trains and things. And because we have particularly super awesome friends who are on the police SWAT team, they didn't just bring regular old standard police cars, they brought police cars and SWAT cars and armored personnel carriers. My kid was in Wheel heaven.

This is an armored personnel carrier.  You can sit inside on benches, or try and peer out of the miniscule windows, or climb up the ladder and out the roof to ...umm, view wildlife.  Because this is a kids/nature blog.  Yup, pretty awesome wildlife viewing ports in the roof.
Objects in this photograph are larger than they appear
 When my son is in the foreground, he is taller than the tire.  When he is next to the tire, he is not. Those are big, large, ginormous tires.  This is an important point to make so that you are sufficiently impressed by my claim that when I fell, I was in the air for a long, long time, before I hit ground. And no, I definitely did not stick the landing.

Here are the ergonomically - challenged entry/exit steps.  There are three: One under that barrel, and two above it.  The one under it is actually several inches closer to the truck than the one above it.  So instead of going out, the way normal stairs do, it goes in, like a twisted man's version of a fun-house ladder.  They are all extremely narrow, and all made out of cheese graters folded out flat.  I really don't think they planned for mothers needing photo ops when they designed this, which was clearly an oversight on the part of the manufacturer.
The scene of the crime

See, what happens when you're on that top step and you try to swivel around while holding a camera in one hand, is that you realize that where there might be a grab bar, there isn't.  And where there might be an opening big enough for you to not hit your forehead, there apparently isn't that, either.  Because the first thing that happened was the smashing of the forehead into steel, but we can't actually count that as an injury, as it didn't leave a mark.

The second thing that happened was the grab for the bar-that-wasn't-where-expected, and the third thing through the next several things are very mixed up in my head.  There were some moments of bumping off of things, and then another several moments of free fall, and then I was sitting down on the asphalt, with the camera held high (always save the camera), and uniformed people rushing at me.

Then there was the retreat to the SWAT van where they kept the first-aid kit, and the application of several bandages, by said super-awesome policeman buddy and his son (who both seemed a bit surprised to have me show up requesting band-aids).  Then there was the eating of pizza and cookies with the policeman's wife while the elbow got progressively stiffer.  And finally there was the comparison of ouchies with said not-quite-three year old while sitting in Bed 10 at the local ER, waiting for the doctor to tell me if the elbow was cracked.

It felt cracked.


It wasn't cracked.  And 36 hours later, I can almost use that arm again, which is brilliant.  Let me tell you, teaching kids how to hold live and highly excitable frogs with only one good hand?  Challenging.

The good news is, none of the frogs actually escaped. I mean, several did, but none of them got very far. So in the end, the tally was:

Skin grated off two body parts by cheese grater, and scraped off third by asphalt.
Two damaged shoulders, one swollen ankle, and an elbow in an arm splint.
And five frogs returned to their native pond, happy as clams.  Or happy as frogs can be, when they are no longer being manhandled by one-armed women.

And the turtle went home happy, too.


  1. I'm ready to buy the book - and so are millions of others, when you get your publisher to stop birdwatching from the armored personnel carrier. xodori

  2. I've been saying it for the longest time.


    (Thank you 'Old Dodo')