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Switches, Slivers, and Shots
She called out from the bottom of the steps by the garage door, "Honey, can you turn off the driveway lights from the living room."
"You can turn them off from the garage," I answered.
"I know," my wife replied, "but if you turn them off in the living room, both switches will be down the way you like them." She was correct.
I installed a lot of three, and four-way switches when I rewired our house because they are so convenient. For example, I put a light switch at the top and bottom of the stairwell; there's a light switch at both ends of the hallway.
We can turn the kitchen light on from the dining room door, living room doorway, or the back door to the deck. Likewise, the living room light can be turned on or off from the hallway, the stairwell, the dining room door, or the front door.
We can operate the driveway lights from the garage or the house's front door. This convenience allows us to turn on the lights if we expect company after dark. When guests leave in the evening, we can see them off at the front door, then turn the lights off (without running downstairs to the garage) after they have backed out of our driveway. I like many light switches. But I also like the switches down when a light is off and up when it is on.
I've often walked down the steps to turn the stairwell lights off, then climbed the steps in the dark just so the switches were in the proper position. Although this defeats the convenience of having multiple switches, it drives me nuts when a switch is up but the light is off.
I appreciated my wife's consideration of this detail for me. "Okay," I answered her, "I'll turn them off up here.
I walked to the front door and flicked the switch with my index finger. Just as I did so, a pain shot through my finger, then up my arm. "Ouch," I cursed as I examined my fingertip.
I was helping my cousin with a project in which we were using black drywall screws. Unfortunately, those little boogers are notorious for carrying very fine metal slivers, and I had one in my finger. I bit my lip, held my breath, and squinted my eyes as my cousin attempted to remove the sliver with a pair of sharp tweezers. "I can't tell if I got it or not," Cliff said, while looking closely at my fingertip.
It always amazes me that something so tiny can cause so darn much pain. It's even more painful when someone inadvertently brushes a sliver the wrong way while attempting to remove it. So much pain, in fact, I told my cousin, "I'm pretty sure you got it out," even though I had no idea if he got it. It turns out he did not.
A few days later, I showed the sliver to my aunt Di. She immediately got a pair of tweezers and sat me at the table. I winced with pain as she tried to grip it with the pliers; okay, they were tweezers, but it felt like she was pinching my finger with pliers. "It's not wanting to come out," Di reported. "Let me get a needle."
Di returned to the table with the newest weapon of torture. After holding the tip in a flame until the needle glowed red, she said, "My dad taught me to heat the tip of the pin with a match to kill any germs."
Di poked my finger just a bit, but I screamed like a chicken, pulled my finger away, and told her, "I'm pretty sure the sliver will come out later on its own." I have high pain tolerance, but sliver removal exceeds that limit.
Di suggested a pain-free way to remove a sliver. "I've heard that if you wrap a banana peel around your fingertip, the banana skin will draw the sliver out of your finger." I gave her a look of skepticism.
"Some place in the world, there is a starving monkey who needs that banana more than I do," I said.
"I'll wait until Melissa can look at it later," I said. "She's really good at getting slivers out. And if she can't get it, eventually gangrene will set in, then my fingertip will fall off. Poof! The sliver is gone!" I left my aunt's house and went home to my wife.
One time, Melissa removed the worst sliver I ever had in life.
It had poked into the tip of my finger, penetrating under the fingernail. We could see the silver through my fingernail; it was almost one-half inch long, and it hurt! When I tried to remove it on my own, I broke off the exposed small wooden tip. Melissa looked at it, "That has to come out," she said, but I wasn't going to let her even try.
I was pretty sure it would hurt worse coming out than it would to leave the sliver there. "It will eventually grow out as the fingernail grows," I insisted.
The next day we were at my brother Dan and Petrina's house. They all agreed that the sliver needed to be removed. Melissa approached me with an arsenal of silver removal tools. Petrina stood by with triple antibiotic ointment and a band-aide. Dan held a bright headlamp, shining it on the tip of my finger, but looked away as Doctor Melissa began the procedure. (I think he hates slivers more than I do.) I'm not sure if Danny was really there to hold the light or tackle me if I made a run for the front door.
Melissa barely touched my finger, and I screamed like a girl that she was trying to kill me. I demanded a shot of courage - whiskey. Whiskey always worked in western movies when a cowboy out on the prairie had to remove a bullet from his buddy’s leg. Although I've never been shot, I'm pretty sure it can't hurt any worse than a sliver.
In the end, Melissa got the sliver out. She has a steady hand. But, honestly, it felt better right away as the pulsing in my fingertip stopped as soon as the sliver was gone.
After bumping the sliver on the light switch, I held my throbbing finger, examining the metal sliver. Melissa came up the steps from the basement, "What are you looking at," she asked. I showed her the sliver, which had now festered in pretty well. "That's going to have to come out," she reported. I swear she had a twinkle in her eye.
With a new year upon us, it's time to make resolutions that will make us better people and improve our lives. So as Melissa approached me with a handful of gadgets, sharp things, and a bottle of whiskey for sliver removal, I came up with my resolution. This year, I will stop worrying about which way the light switches are flipped. Melissa may never have known about this dang sliver if it wasn't for that stupid light switch issue!
Melissa reached for my finger. "Not without a shot of courage first," I insisted.
And so, I lift my shot of courage and propose a toast: "Here's to a sliver-free new year, my friends. Cheers!"
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