I passed out on the job. That’s the short story.
Here’s the long one.
At least most of it. I can’t even tell you what I was doing there because the office made us promise secrecy. It’s a rehearsal of sort and it doesn’t actually involve anyone important, but there’s people around who disagree and make a point of it to drive over and tell us that. By the hundreds. So we’re not allowed to disclose that information.
I think I’m allowed to tell that we were unloading trucks at the time of the accident. Due to circumstances, I hadn’t had breakfast that morning, very little sleep and because I had had a headache for days, I was a little high from a strong painkiller. It’s funny how they permanently get rid of the pain, even after they’ve worn out. But then and there, it was still working merrily.
Whistling “I hope you die” by the Bloodhound Gang, I walked to the ass end of the trailer and looked outside, at the massive construction in the middle of the equally massive room. It had been tricky setting it up, because the ceiling was only slightly higher than the construction, and the crane had very little room to play. Not that I would know, I wasn’t there. Staring up at the black steel, I wished I had been.
I hopped down and grabbed hold of the metal ramp used to wheel flight cases out, experience told me we’d have to move it to either underneath the truck, or the next trailer where we would continue our load-in.
As usual, it involved some organization for 3 others to gather round and maneuver the massive thing to the side of the truck, and tuck it underneath sideways. The guys at the opposite end were struggling a little, so I grabbed a firm hold of my end to tug it towards me and give them more room to work with. My colleague had a different idea: brute force. He gave the whole a firm shove, and it gave, sliding further into the metal girders making up the frame of the trailer… and my fingers along with it.
Although it was a shallow flesh wound, it hurt like a bitch. There is now a good piece of my fingerprint missing and blood is stuck under my fingernail. Fingertips are fucking sensitive, man, and I thought my nail had come loose when I saw the blood well up.
I’ve had accidents before, where I could see the skin hanging from whatever I came into contact with, and continued working, bleeding like a pig. I usually don’t care much. But this time, I felt my energy drain from me as if someone opened the tap and it came pouring out. I had to sit down and leaned against a flight case heavy enough not to roll away, at least until my unconcerned colleague wheeled it off.
Anatoli came up to me and advised me to go see the first-aid post. He is one of our regular crew chiefs, an ex-commando who generally doesn’t give much of a shit about much other than soccer, sex and his kids. But he takes good care of us regardless, so I didn’t bother discuss it and followed his order. He came with me to the bathroom to rinse off the wound first, where else than way on the other side of the oversized venue. Two thirds of the way there, I collapsed against the catering tent, dizzy and feeling sick. Anatoli told me I looked like shit.
Every time I imagined the nail coming loose, the dizziness rose up again. It was so hard not to, with the pain pulling my attention to my fingers. It worried me that the painkiller seemed powerless against it, predicting a very unpleasant experience after it would wear off.
After a minute or two I managed to compose myself and rose to my feet, supported by ‘Toli the rest of the way.
In the bathroom, we were joined by Benny, crew chief #2. He’s pretty much the white knight the company needed, working hard for its reputation and ready to defend his employer to the death. He’s got good qualities too, of course. When he’s not working.
I-don’t-remember-who took hold of my hand hand pulled it under the running water. Seeing the blood wash away and the loose skin open, I immediately lost the fight against the images of torn nails, doctors with needles, and operations without sedation (sedating a finger is difficult and painful to do and often they just skip it). Feeling the dizziness wash over me with a vengeance, I sank down to a squatting position while they did their stuff. That’s the last thing I remember.
The next thing I realize, is my head moving and my legs jerking as if in a sleep twitch. I don’t know if that was me or someone did that for me, because as I came to, I was on my back with my legs being held up.
I felt like I had been asleep for hours. I’m pretty sure I had been dreaming too, with the tune from “I hope you die” still ringing vividly in my ears. I felt so peaceful, so safe, that I somehow assumed that I was in my bed, waking up from the sun in my face. Imagine my surprise when finding my two crew chiefs’ faces above me, instead. It even took me a moment to recognize them as my brain seemed to go through a quick reboot, and about 10 seconds longer to understand why the walls were covered in tiles. It needed a full reconstruction of the morning in my head, for me to to catch up to why I was on my back, with one roadie holding my legs and the other my head as if planning to spit-roast me, in some public toilets.
I found myself passionately wishing I could just turn around and go back to sleep. No such luck.
I felt surprisingly good after all that. I got up pretty easily, and didn’t feel nauseous at all anymore. Some French speaking guy put my finger in a bandage before I got sent to catering for some serious breakfast.
Two days later, my finger still throbs but it’s not so bad, all in all. The nail is still there, it’s just annoying that it now hurts to use my right hand. The painkiller wearing off turned out making no difference. Not that it didn’t hurt throughout the day, it just didn’t hurt more.
Now the real pain begins: Losing the reputation of fainting like a woman at the sight of my own blood.