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So… It’s Broken, Then?

, , , , | Learning | March 10, 2022



In fourth grade, I got a growth spurt. I was finally tall enough to reach and climb a set of horizontal bars that were on my school’s playground. So, during one lunchtime recess, I climbed to the highest one, which was maybe eight feet off the ground, but it seemed like twenty to a short kid like me.

Now that I was hanging off the highest bar, I realized that I had no idea how to dismount. I simply let go. But as I fell, my legs swung out and my hands went down to cushion my fall. What ended up happening was that my left humerus wedged into my left ulna, not breaking the latter into pieces, but cracking it lengthwise a couple of inches. And yes, it hurt like h***.

I went into the school to see the nurse. Since it was lunchtime, there was a teacher monitoring the hall; we were only allowed one entry into the hall during lunch.

Me: “Mrs. [Hall Monitor], I think I broke my arm.”

Hall Monitor: “Let’s see. Oh, that doesn’t look broken.”

She then attempted to bend my arm, which I’d been keeping straight since one bone was wedged into the other.

I screamed.

Hall Monitor: “Oh, perhaps it’s more damaged than it looks.”

I walked down to the school secretary’s office, which led into the nurse’s office.

Secretary: “[My Name], why are you here?”

Me: “I need to see the nurse. I think my arm’s broken.”

Secretary: “The nurse isn’t at our school today. Let’s see what it looks like. Hmmm… It doesn’t look broken.”

As she was looking, she tried to bend my elbow. Again, I screamed at the top of my lungs.

Secretary: *Sigh* “I’ll call over to [Other School] and see if she can come over.”

I waited for about half an hour for the nurse. When she arrived, we went through the whole it-doesn’t-look-broken routine, including my scream. She conceded that I was more seriously hurt than it looked but not a broken arm. She called my mother to come get me. Coincidentally, Mom worked for our family doctor.

At the doctor’s office, he first numbed the area around my elbow before doing any manipulation. After an X-ray, he saw the unusual crack in my ulna, along with my humerus partly inside it. He managed to get my bones back in position and then put on a cast, Ace bandages, and a sling.

The look on the teacher’s, secretary’s, and nurse’s faces when I returned the next day WITH A BROKEN ARM was priceless.

The Miracle Smile-Maker

, , , , , , , | Learning | March 4, 2022

When I was still a teen, I helped at the nursery of our church and then “graduated” to an assistant for the new daycare program they started for kids three to six years old.

One little girl that I remember fondly was an extrovert who truly loved being in our class and getting to spend time with the other little kids. Unfortunately, she also suffered from a severe case of separation anxiety. Back when I had her in the nursery, she could cry through the entire sermon until her mother came back to get her. This led to an odd dichotomy: a child that loved to be in our classroom and yet cried as if she was being tortured whenever she was first dropped off.

I had one game I liked playing with a few of the kids during snack time where I would go up to the child and dare them not to smile, then just stay in their face reminding them not to smile and commenting if they were starting to smile, etc. The absurdity of trying not to smile always makes one smile, and most kids would end up smiling within a few minutes. Since the aforementioned girl happened to have the most beautiful smile, capable of lighting up a room, she was almost always one of the kids I’d do this game with just to see that smile.

Eventually, like some sort of Pavlovian response, she got to the point that just telling her not to smile would lead to a giant smile. Not wanting to lose, she would cover her face with her hands, so now the game was to see if I could “find” the smile she was hiding.

This was so reliable that I started to use the trick on her whenever she was dropped off. She would always be handed to me bawling her eyes out. I’d find some way to distract her for a split second so she would listen to me — I’d even pretend to bump her or trip just to get her attention if I had to — then, once she was listening, I would tell her not to smile. Her hands would immediately go to cover up a big smile, and after a brief game of “hunting” for the smile, she would give up, beam at me with her smile for a second, and then get put down to happily run off to find some kids to play with, having forgotten all about her crying and separation anxiety.

Then, one day, my family was out for a vacation and I wasn’t there to help with the class on Sunday. The girl’s mother came down to drop her off as usual, but when she learned I wasn’t there to take the girl from her mother, she asked if she should just keep her daughter with her in church so her daughter wouldn’t distract the rest of the class. Apparently, she had decided I was a miracle worker and the only one capable of stopping her daughter from crying and was worried the girl would cry through the entire class, like she used to do in the nursery without me.

Of course, as much as I’d like to claim I was a miracle worker, mostly the girl had simply been growing up over the year between when I first saw her in the nursery and then, and she had better control of her separation anxiety. So, while I’m told she did have a harder time adjusting to the classroom without me to comfort her, she managed to calm herself on her own enough to enjoy the class within ten minutes or so. Still, I did feel touched that her mother had such faith in me.

I still have fond memories of that sweet little girl, her beautiful smiles, and her convincing her mother I was a miracle worker.

It’s Sure No Walk In The Park, Part 2

, , , , , | Learning | February 26, 2022

A recent story brought this memory back.

When I was in high school, I signed up to participate in the Duke of Edinburgh award. This is a youth programme with various charitable and social elements, but it also involves outdoor activities, which for us involved hiking sections of the West Highland Way — a popular hiking trail in Scotland.

On the hike, we were separated into groups and given a map and compass to find our way to the campsite. In hindsight, the school was maybe a bit too cavalier in their assumption that we knew how to use those tools, which brings us to my story.

Groups were staggered by twenty-minute intervals, and mine was the second to set off on day one. However, Group 1 consisted of some of the brainiest kids in our year — the really, really smart guys. My group took a quick vote and decided to double-time the start of our hike to catch up with Group 1 to make sure we didn’t get lost.

We really, really should have remembered that none of the kids in Group 1 took Geography, but that only occurred to us later. Another important point to note is that this story took place before mobile phones became common, so only a few of us had them and the coverage was spotty at best out there.

We caught up with Group 1 and continued the hike with them; there was nothing in the rules against this. It was pretty exhausting as the trail went from a fairly well-defined path to a dirt trail that took us higher and higher up a small mountain until it just stopped, deep in a forest. We were clearly not where we were supposed to be, so we consulted our maps and had an emergency meeting.

Me: “I know this sucks, guys, but I’m pretty sure we took the right path a few miles back when we were supposed to go left. I think the best thing we can do is just take the hit, retrace our steps, and go back the way we came.”

Classmate: “No, look! If we cut through the forest, it’s a straight line to camp. We should be able to make it in a couple of hours.”

Me: “Look at the map! It says that there are a lot of really steep hills and valleys that way; plus, we don’t know what the terrain is like. I really think we’d be safer taking the hit on time and going back to the fork in the path.”

Classmate: *Very smugly* “No, I’m sure it’s safe. You’re being too cautious.”

Me: “No, I’m not. We’re not doing this.”

We split into our groups again, and mine followed my lead back down the trail. As we approached the fork, we saw our teacher’s car, and as soon as he saw us, he got out and stormed over.

Teacher: “Where the h*** have you guys been?! We’ve been searching for you for the last two hours! Have you seen Group 1?!”

Me: “Yeah, we met up with them and climbed the wrong path! It ended in the middle of a path, in a forest partway up that mountain. When we realised, our group decided to retrace our steps, but Group 1 wouldn’t come with us. They said they could figure it out.”

Teachers: “You weren’t even supposed to be up a mountain. You were meant to take the flat trail! Idiots! Right, all of you get in the car. I’ll drive you to the campsite and see if they’ve made it.”

We got to the campsite and got set up as the remaining groups started to arrive, but after a few more hours, there was still no sign of Group 1. The teacher phoned the nearest police station and was on the verge of organising a mountain rescue team to start a search when two of the kids from Group 1 suddenly staggered into the camp, muddy and torn without their packs.

Teacher: “Where have you been? What happened to you?! Where is the rest of your group?!”

Classmate: “We got stuck on the wrong side of a gorge trying to take a shortcut! The rest of the group didn’t think they could make it, so we left them there with our stuff and made it the rest of the way by ourselves to get help.”

Teacher: “Why wouldn’t you just go back the way you came?! Bah, never mind. Get in the car and we’ll go find them. I’d better call the police back first; they were about to scramble a search team for you idiots.”

A couple of hours later (when it was pitch black), the teacher drove in with all of Group 1 in their car. Fortunately, they were very embarrassed but unhurt. We were lectured firmly about how reckless we had all been and told we would be given a refresher in map reading in the morning before the second day of hiking.

That time, we all checked the map anytime we came to a fork, just to be safe.

It’s Sure No Walk In The Park

The Human Body Is A Shocking Wonder

, , , , | Healthy | February 19, 2022


This happened many moons ago, when I was in seventh grade.

The bell rings signifying the end of lunch. In my haste to get back to my classroom, I end up trying to jump over a bench instead of going around it, falling sideways, and having all of my ninety-six pounds land directly on my left wrist. I pop up and head for class, making it in with about one second to spare before I’d be marked late. I happen to be sitting in the front row.

The teacher spends the next minute writing things on the blackboard, and we all start taking notes. When he turns around, he sees me.

Teacher: “[My Name], leave immediately and go see the nurse.”

Me: “Why? I’m fine.”

Teacher: “Do it right now.”

Me: “If you say so.”

I put my stuff back in my backpack, mutter something under my breath, and reluctantly head for the nurse’s office. Yeah, my left wrist is hurting a bit, but I just fell on it. It’s probably sprained or something. I take my watch off it and transfer it to my right wrist, figuring that’ll help. 

When I arrive…

Nurse: “Sit down and don’t move. I’m calling your parents. They’ll take you to the hospital.”

Me: “What the h***? I don’t need a hospital!”

Nurse: “Yes, you do! Look at your wrist!”

I took a look. The bone was almost poking through the skin.

The doctor said the break looked like it had been cut with a laser. Thankfully, the teacher and the nurse noticed right away that my wrist was broken, even if I didn’t!

Ah, Capitalism

, , , , , , | Right | February 4, 2022

I love cooking; it’s something that has helped me massively at university. Even on a budget, I can make a whole week of meals in batches, and they taste pretty good. That turns out so well that I start selling meals to other students. I don’t charge much at all; sometimes I just use the leftovers for a meal for me.

Student: “I’m having a party. Could you do some food?”

Me: “I tend to do odd meals, not whole parties. How many people are coming?”

Student: “I don’t know, whoever turns up.”

Me: “That doesn’t help much. How much have you got to spend?”

Student: “I don’t know, £50? Can you do me a discount?”

Me: “No, no discounts. I buy the food and take a tiny bit for my time and electricity.” 

Student: “Well, how much can you do?”

Me: “I will let you know.”

I look into it and initially struggle, but I work out that if I add the £50 to my normal shopping bill, I can buy bigger batches cheaper. This would give us both more food for our money. I let the guy know how much he will be getting, and he seems happy.

He pays, and I make and deliver the food. I’m pretty happy as it’s more than I thought, it tastes good, and I have a little extra for myself.

A few weeks later:

Student: “I’ve heard you’re selling my party food.”

Me: “I made extra. I’m selling that.”

Student: “But I paid for that; it’s mine.”

Me: “No, you paid for the food you received and were happy about it. You got plenty of food for your money.”

Student: “I’m telling everyone you’re stealing from them.”

Me: “I knew this would happen. Here is the receipt. This is what I used to cook your food. Look familiar?”

He gives me a blank stare.

Me: “See how the amount is more than the £50 you gave me? That is because I bought more than I needed, and what was left over, I used to make the stuff I’m selling.”

Student: “But you’re profiting from my food.”

Me: “What, did you expect me to do it for free?”

Student: “This isn’t on. I’m telling everyone.”

Me: “Tell people I’m selling food for a profit, using my time, my expertise, and my electricity bill. Yeah, I’m sure that they will be appalled.”

He tried to start a massive slander movement against me, but unsurprisingly, people didn’t care and continued to buy from me. If anything, I think business went up a little bit. I didn’t see him the next year, so I can only assume he dropped out. The fact he was studying business makes it all the more obvious why.