Stupidity could be broadly defined as being ignorant, refusing to learn from past experiences on account of ego and in an informal sense as not being alert both physically as well as mentally. Why do I give you this definition? Well…
I was asked by my friend Tim if I would help him decorate four medium sized trees at the church we both attended. I was done decorating my display so I said “Sure.” We were to meet that night at 7:00.
That afternoon, I packed all the Christmas lights and cords in my car. Later, several people came over to see my light display. A boy in my third grade class and his family came by to enjoy the show. I invited them inside to chat and to see the decorations. Before I knew it the phone was ringing. It was Tim asking if I was alright. No! I can’t believe its 7:30 and I was already thirty minutes late. I ran out of the house looking for my tennis shoes. I couldn’t find them. No big deal, I threw on some sandals.
I saw Tim at church not looking too happy after waiting 45 minutes for me. We worked hard and fast and strung the lights on the trees. All was forgiven as Tim and I were joking and having fun. We were almost done with the job. Then, my pastor asked, “Michael, how do I attach lights to the roof line of this building?” Well of course, I know how to do that. I explained my way. There was a lift available and the job went quickly.
He attached the lights to the roof and they were perfectly straight.
Pastor Dave glanced over at the other building facing the one he just finished. He wanted to do the same thing. The only problem was the lift couldn’t go over there. I offered to get on the roof and lean over the edge to put the lights on. I did the same thing to my roof so it would be a piece of cake.
As I climbed the ladder I realized the roof was metal and it was damp from the dew. Do you remember the earlier definition of stupidity? Here I was in the middle of it. I thought to myself, “I know this is stupid, but maybe I can do something to make it less stupid.” I was toying with the idea about telling my pastor, “I’ll put the lights up tomorrow when it is safer,” but the macho man in me decides to climb onto the roof. When a metal roof gets wet with dew, it becomes extremely slippery. It was 10pm and quite chilly. I tried walking on it and I started sliding. I decided to be safer by kicking my sandals off. I had to sit down and scoot up the slant as I worked. I put the lights up the first side of the gable. As I started to climb over the peak the lights all came off except for the final 12. Tim went up and held the lights on the peak while I secured the lights back in place. He commented how unsafe it was up there. At least he had on tennis shoes!
I was slipping the whole time. This was just a bad idea. But, I had to finish the job! Pastor Dave told me that a light was upside down. I moved back down the roof and fixed it.
As I started to crawl back up bare footed I began to slide down the roof. I was sliding over the bolt heads used to attach the roof. I was clawing at the metal with my fingernails trying desperately to stop. My eyes were as big as dinner plates while I continued to slide. After about 3 or 4 feet my toe slammed into a screw head. It dug into the underside of my big toe stopping all 205 pounds of me. The pain sent a jolt through my foot and up my leg like lightening ripping through a tree. Tim asked if I was alright. I said “yes” as I hauled myself over the peak and kept working on the other side of the gable. I noticed there was a little blood on the roof. I figured that was OK because we have a burgundy roof and no one would notice.
I kept working on hanging those clear lights. As I attached them I noticed some were red. What? How can red lights be on a clear light string? When I finally worked down to the red bulbs, I discovered they were clear bulbs covered with blood. That was the moment I finally realized I was seriously hurt. I kept seeing blood wherever I went. I was thinking I needed to finish and get down before I lost too much blood. I knew time was against me. I finished the job while Tim was scooting down the roof. He commented that there was a lot of blood near the ladder. That’s when Pastor Dave noticed a couple of crooked lights. So, I scooted back up to fix them. I straighten them and inched back down the roof. When I got to the ladder, I looked down at the white gutter and there was a pool of blood that slid off the roof. The urge to get home was stronger as I knew I could pass out if I kept losing blood at this rate.
I climbed down the ladder and saw more blood on each step of the ladder. Seeing your own blood on each step right at your eye level gives you a different perspective and a greater since of urgency. I moved over to a low wall and sat down. I asked Tim to get me something to wrap my foot. As I waited, I saw blood pooling under my foot that looked like a continent. For some reason this amazed me. I was thinking this is really cool! I felt at peace seeing South America appear before my very eyes.
Tim brought me a handful of paper towels. I wrapped my toe and foot in paper towels. I shoved the bloody thing into my sandal. I gathered all the extra lights and cords and threw them in the back of my van. The peace I once felt was gone. I knew I needed to get the heck out of there. Now!
As I drove away, I noticed Tim washing the concrete. I watched in awe at the amount of blood flowing down the pavement. I understood I needed to make it home fast and stop the bleeding. As I was driving I started to feel a little light headed. I closed my eyes to blink, as I opened them I saw nothing but black. I blinked again and I could see. Great! What to do? Blood was soaking the paper towels and pooling in my sandal. I wrestled with two thoughts. I could pull over and risk bleeding to death or keep driving and risk crashing! At that time, I was less than a mile away from my house. I decided to keeping driving, hoping I wouldn’t hurt someone with this decision. I started slapping my face as I drove home, to stay alert. I was singing Christmas songs very loudly. I rolled down the windows and cranked the volume of the radio. I continued to hit my face to stay conscious. I prayed to make it to my family. I finally pulled in the driveway and saw my home that I wasn’t sure I would ever see again. When I stepped out of the car, my son Ryan saw my foot and started to gag!
I looked down and my foot was covered in blood. I dragged myself into the house and sat down in the kitchen. I was thankful to have made it safely home and now someone could take care of me. My wife Missy walked in the room and she calmly took a look at my bloody foot. I told her what happened. I asked her to look at my toe to determine if I needed to go to the hospital. She saw a deep gash and blood everywhere. Missy said, “You need to go to the hospital right now!” I didn’t want to go, but I finally agreed. I thought “I will be alright as long as my wife drives me to seek medical attention.” Then she asked me if I could drive myself to the hospital. I couldn’t believe this was happening! What? Doesn’t she know I barely made it home? I wanted to say no, but soon realized that someone needed to stay with my three sleeping children. It was close to eleven at night. I made a decision to not tell her that I started to pass out while driving. I can do this, but how? I remembered that when I gave blood before they gave me orange juice to help with the blood loss. We didn’t have orange juice in the house, so I asked Missy for some apples. She sliced red apples for me. I ate several slices to get some sugar in my system. I felt a little better. I thought, “I can drive myself to the hospital. I hope.”
My drive to the hospital was the longest drive of my life. I parked and breathed a long sigh of relief. I limped up to the emergency room receptionist and explained what was wrong with my toe. She asked if it was still bleeding. I looked down at my foot that had been bleeding excessively. To my shock and anger my toe was no longer oozing blood. I couldn’t believe it! I seriously thought about kicking the reception desk with my foot to restart the bleeding. I knew if I told her I wasn’t bleeding I was going to wait hours and hours. I chose to tell her the truth anyway, and then I settled down for a long winter’s nap. To my surprise I only waited two hours to see the doctor. The first question I asked the doc: “Did I really need to come to the emergency room?” He had to spend several minutes cleaning the blood from my foot to get a good look at the injury. Once he saw the cut he said I absolutely needed immediate medical attention. He worked on my toe for about an hour. The doctor administered 3 injections through a large needle to numb my toe. I had a one inch gash under my big toe that needed six stitches to close. The cut was down to the tendon. If the screw head had torn in any deeper, I would have needed surgery. I finally arrived back to my sweet home at three in the morning. I was beyond thankful to be alive as I lay down to sleep.
So you decide, did I re-define stupid that night?
P.S. When my wife found out that I blacked out and didn’t tell her she was furious. I guess I was pretty stupid there, too!
This article was included in the March 2010 issue of PlanetChristmas Magazine.
By Michael Beason