Washington Evening Journal
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Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 31, 2014

Sight for Sore Eyes

By Curt Swarm | Jul 24, 2012

A lady “commissioned” me to build her one of my “cattails.” Since this was my first “commission” job — i.e., someone was actually paying me to build something — I jumped on it!

For those of you who don't know what my “cattails” are, I take those old window weights, the kind that used to be inside the old-fashioned window frames, weld them onto rebar, add some rusty leaves, and voila, a truer-than-life cattail.

I did this on one of those 100-degree days. The sweat was forming rivers down my back and stinging my eyes, but men like to sweat. It cleanses the body from the inside.

Unfortunately, pride precedes the fall. I had all my welding done, and decided the cattail was so pretty, I really should put my name on it. For scribing my name, I use the handy-dandy plasma cutter. I have found that for plasma cutting, like torch cutting, I don't really need the UV mask.

Job completed, I still had time for some Law and Oder in the air-conditioned house, with a couple of ice-cream sandwiches to cool the palate. I did some reading before bed, and went to sleep, comforted by the thought of a job well done, and delivery of my cattail to the lady the next day.

About midnight I woke up. My eyes were on fire. I had been dreaming, and the pain was woven into the dream. It was very confusing. I couldn't open my eyes, and when I tried, they watered so profusely, I couldn't see. It felt like my eyes were full of sand burs. Ah, oh, it was the welding, or more precisely, the plasma cutting. What to do? I panicked. I thought I was going blind! I couldn't see to drive—should I call an ambulance? With tough decisions like this, I like to flip my sobriety coin. It has never failed me. In fact, the few times I have ignored its direction, there have been dire consequences.

I flipped the coin. But because my eyes were watering so badly, I couldn't see to catch the darned thing. It hit the floor, and then I had to try and find it on my hands and knees. I felt around. There it was. I could barely make out, “heads.” I was to call an ambulance.

Dialing 911 was next to impossible. Four wrong numbers later, I got 'er done.

To make a long story short, I got an ambulance ride and a good chewing out by the E.R. doc. Fortunately, my eyes would return to normal. They would be bloodshot for a while. (I've been told they have turned from blue to gray.) I had learned a tough lesson about wearing UV eye protection.

The most difficult part, however, was getting a ride home. I thought, “No problem. I'll just call my son, he lives only a few blocks away.” My son answered the phone from Florida. I had forgotten he was on vacation. The E.R. called for a taxi. No answer.--Small town Mt. Pleasant. I called my neighbor. It was 2:00 a.m. “Who?” “You're where?”

My good neighbor showed up barefooted, and brought me home (tail tucked). What are neighbors for? It sort of reminded me of days gone by when I got chucked in the clinker for public intox and had to call a friend for bail and a ride home.

I delivered the cattail the next day wearing sun glasses. When she saw her cattail, the lady exclaimed, “Why, that's a sight for sore eyes.”

She didn't know how true her words were.

 

Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him a curtswarm@yahoo.com, or visit his website at www.empty-nest-words-photos-and-frames.com

 

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