I’ve been “fighting” a cold. (“Fighting” being a euphemism for “getting my ass kicked”.)
Like all red blooded men, I approached the situation with denial. It’s in the guy manual. “Bah! I’m not that bad. A half gallon of coffee and a little mental grit and I’ll be fine.” We all think we’re John Wayne.
Thus, for a variety of unrelated reasons I was underneath my truck, far from home, hooking up a chain in a rain shower. Any sane person in similar condition would be in bed enduring daytime TV. I hate TV!
I’m not sure what you call them; the single chain link with a screw type connector? I had one that was rusted, bent, and reticent. The work of the devil! Generally I take a 9/16” open end wrench and the thing squeaks open just fine. This time wasn’t so simple. No go. The damn thing hung there on the undercarriage as if to say “Nice try bubba but you’re fucked.” I did what all red blooded men do in such a situation; I went back to the tool box and resorted to the ultimate bail out tool. Vice grips!
Frankly vice grips are a monstrosity and the world would be better off without them. Except they handle situations that are even worse than the ones they cause. I cranked the grips down, locked ’em tight and prepared to reef my back outta’ whack.
Then I paused. Was there a better way? I pondered a bit. Nope. It was brute force time.
On second thought I decided gloves were in order. I rooted around in the truck cab and put on some beefy leather gloves in the interest of safety. If you’re going to go for it you might as well go all the way.
Crank. Sqeaaaaallll. A ha! Five degrees of progress.
I reset the grips. Leaned into it. Crank. Squealllll. I was rewarded with more progress.
You know what’s coming next don’t you?
Crank. Slip. BANG!
The grips had torn off some of the cheap pot metal crap they’d used to make the link. In utterly predictable kinetic mayhem my thumb had smashed solidly into the undercarriage.
Ouch! It hurt like hell.
Normally I’d swear and cuss and roll around like a gut shot lizard. Not this time. I sat up cross legged underneath the tailgate and carefully inspected the digit. Still there. Hurting like hell. My thoughts were more curious than usual. Why wasn’t I flopping around like a fish? After all, the pain was immense. I’m not that tough.
All I could think was “gee whiz, how fortunate I am that I put on gloves.”
“Gee whiz?” What the hell was that?
It was probably the cold.
I took a deep breath. I felt a bit tight around the ribs. Dredging in my memory I counted the days since I’d had a good night’s sleep. More days than I’d like to admit. I pondered my head. It weighed what felt like thirty pounds. Plus there was the final evidence, my thumb hurt like white hot needles had been shoved in it and all I could think was “Gee whiz”.
Hmmm… pneumonia? Nah. Bronchitis? Probably.
The “cold” I’d been ignoring must be a lot nastier than I’d allowed myself to admit. I tossed my tools in the back of the truck, slammed the tailgate shut, shook my head a bit to clear it, and consulted my map. I was 40-50 miles from the nearest town.
Well that’s that. I fired up the engine and headed off. An hour later I was being ignored by a receptionist. Fifteen minutes after that a radiologist subbing for a nurse screwed up my blood pressure cuff and practically cut my arm off. Ten minutes after that a bored but very competent doctor from somewhere foreign easily diagnosed bronchitis. Perhaps “confirmed” is the better word since the thumb had already told me everything I needed to know. Then came a pharmacist assistant who wasn’t nearly hot enough to make up for the fact that she was incompetent and is sooner or later gonna’ kill someone. Then a pharmacist who was spot on and pleasant fixed everything.
Antibiotics! God bless antibiotics because without them we’d all die young and in misery!
I feel a thousand times better. Which is to say that you can’t truly appreciate how great it is to feel “bad” until the feeling of “incredibly bad” has been alleviated.
As for the link? After I got my drugs at the pharmacy I drove across the street to a hardware store where I got bigger vice grips and a new replacement stainless steel link. I crawled under the truck and bent the old rusted son of a bitch off! That’s right. I replaced it with a new link right there in the parking lot and the universe is back in balance again. Why? Because that’s what men do!
Now if you’ll excuse me, Mrs. Curmudgeon says I have to go to bed or she’s going to kick my ass. If I get out of bed again I definitely deserve it.