‘’A worker was one accident away from poverty’’ –Keith T. Poole.
When I was a little girl, I was forbidden to approach the stove as my father saw it as a dangerous household appliance that could produce heat and fire and therefore, burns. Until I was about eight, I had an approximate three meter limit access to the oven. Daddy knew best to keep me far from the fire. Indeed, even as an adult, I’ve had my fair share of accidents. Two weeks ago, while at work, I burned part of my right hand and right foot with hot oil to the second degree. How did that happen?
Well, in early January, I was hopelessly looking for a steady job, one that could mesh well with my five other part-time jobs. When I tell people that I have six jobs, their faces showcase puzzlement, but really, I am sort of freelancing. All my employers give me hours and contracts sporadically, but nothing to be certain to make a living from, especially not in January. So at the beginning of the year, I started sending heaps of curriculum vitaes but it was tough luck, even for positions I was skilled for. Hence, when one job contacted me right away, I agreed to go for a trial shift.
I have to admit that I handed out my CV there for two main reasons: one, I was desperate and two, it was two blocks away from my place. Also, it was a restaurant chain that I loved going to with my parents as a younger version of me.The job title? Cook. The place? A fun and familial Belgian burger joint. The fact that I started working there was quite ironic, not only because I eat 90% vegan, but also because I was hoping to find a job in my field.
Nevertheless, I became a cook. I had previous experience working in the kitchen, but it was always a café or salad-bar type of place. I never worked with a deep fryer, and I have to admit that I was scared. I started working three days a week, from 9 to 5. Mornings were spent preparing food for the day and putting things into place. I came in the morning, turned on the deep fryers, and started peeling, cutting and blanching potatoes.
Most mornings before work, I was taking a yoga class from 7 to 8 in order to start my work day awake, refreshed and balanced. The morning of my accident, I didn’t go to yoga because I overslept. I still felt exhausted when I started work. I felt shaky, weary and stressed by work, life, and my boss’s temper. At first, I was alone in the restaurant, trying to be as efficient as possible, while clearly realizing to which extent that I hated my job. A couple of minutes later, my boss came into the restaurant, stressed out by all she had to do while the other manager was in California. She hurried me up, told me that I should know how to do all of this without help already, and that I would have to open the restaurant by myself next time. I felt terrible, voicing almost inaudible ”okays” when she was telling me how to do things.
As I was blanching the potatoes, a bit of oil landed on my hand, hurting like hell. Next thing I knew, a valve opened at ankle level and oil started spilling everywhere on the floor and incidentally, on my feet. I started yelling like there was no tomorrow, standing still for a second in a state of shock. My boss yelled: ”climb on the counter! take off your shoes!”. I did both actions quickly, made my way to the restaurant’s floor, took my leggings and my socks off. I went downstairs to pour cold water all over my body. I was relieved to realized that I only had two burns, and that my legs were saved. I went home dressed in two red aprons, one at the front and one at the back of my body, wrapped up as a skirt. I showered quickly and went to the clinic, where I waited for hours and got told that I had two severe burns.
This instance is not the only accident that happened in recent years. Since I started university in 2010, I had quite a few.
When I was twenty-one, one night in my Mile End apartment, I sliced my right index open with a can of soup as I was trying to unseal it without a can opener. I bled a lot for several hours in the dreary hospital waiting room, and the doctor pasted my finger together again with the help of surgical glue.
When I was twenty-two, upon cooking Kraft Diner for my stoned friends at home, I transferred the pasta in the colander swiftly, and then tried to do the same with the sausage, but instead, the boiling water went down on my leg and burned a big scar, that now (fortunately) shows up in the form of a tiny white dot. When I was twenty-three, I had a bloody bicycle accident in Erlangen, Germany, when I was abroad for a theatre exchange. Late at night, I broke my two front teeth, called an ambulance from a pay phone, and spent 24 hours at the hospital and many more refilling my teeth in. It shows in my smile, my front teeth are shady.
Now that I’m twenty four, I sprained my ankle last May at work, when walking in the forest with children. I had to spend two weeks in bed and couldn’t really walk for a while. And two weeks ago, I burned myself with sizzling oil.
This horrific accident tale has to stop somewhere. I need to get away from this bad karma. I’ve realized that, when I force it too much, something just breaks. I know that I’m a clumsy person, and I’ve always been. Accidents like these make me realize that I need to be fully present and mindful when performing tasks. Of course, not all accidents can be prevented, but I hope that I can refrain them to happen in the future. Arguably, if the trend continues, I’ll eventually be an old lady with a ton of scars (but cool stories to tell).
I know that being accident-prone is the result of fear and stress. Louise Hay has written that accidents arise from a need for punishment. I don’t know if it’s my Judeo Christian heritage or the fact that I felt frustrated at times, but there is something ringing true in that. ”Accidents are expressions of anger. They indicate built-up frustration resulting from not feeling the freedom to speak for one’s self. Accidents also indicate rebellion against authority. We get so mad we want to hit people and instead, we get hit”.
Although Hay’s thoughts might be contested because she puts the responsibility on the accident-prone person’s shoulders, I was indeed pissed off and felt that I had to bow down to authority when I burned myself.
I also felt pissed off to live with a cold and mean roommate when I sliced my finger open.
I felt fed up of taking care of everything when I burned my leg with hot water.
I felt lonely biking back by myself (my date was in the bus) after a night out when I broke my teeth.
I felt stressed, tensed and tired at work when I sprained my ankle.
For now and for the future, I need to become more aware of my body. Rather than being a victim, I think I’ve learned how to refrain from hurting myself. When I feel that something is going to happen, or that I feel stressed and nervous, I am allowed to stop, breathe, and communicate my emotions to avoid unnecessary hazards. Better be safe than sorry.
Lili Monette is a born-and-raised Montrealer and an artist by DNA and by choice. She holds a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Theatre and Development from Concordia University and can be found around the world entertaining people and gathering stories.
Illustration : Aurélie Dubois. Some of her work can be enjoyed here : http://aureliedubois.com/accueil
Reference: You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay