Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Short Story to Distract Me

Yes. Tomorrow's the big day.  I feel like a kid on Christmas Eve, and I'm having a hard time focusing on all the things I need to do before we leave for the airport tomorrow afternoon.

Instead of the post I had planned, I decided to share a story.  A true story.  A story that happened to me.  And it happened to me yesterday.

Yesterday afternoon I was enjoying the "golden hour"--the hour between when Evie falls asleep for her nap and before the boys get home from school--finishing up a project that I can't have half-finished when Tucker gets home. (There is a future post about the project, I promise.)
They look pretty innocuous, don't they?  Just a simple pair of magnetic hooks.  I've been working on a project in my kitchen where I've used 32 of these neodymium magnets to attach frames to a metal sheet. (I know, tantalizing lead-in to a project, but not enough information, right?  I promise to tell all about it soon, but the project isn't the story.)

I don't know if you've heard the stories surrounding these "rare earth" magnets, but they really are as strong as reported.  Wikipedia says, "The greater force exerted by rare earth magnets creates hazards that are not seen with other types of magnet. Magnets larger than a few centimeters are strong enough to cause injuries to body parts pinched between two magnets, or a magnet and a metal surface, even causing broken bones. Magnets allowed to get too near each other can strike each other with enough force to chip and shatter the brittle material, and the flying chips can cause injuries. There have even been cases where young children who have swallowed several magnets have had a fold of the digestive tract pinched between the magnets, causing injury and in one case intestine perforations, sepsis, and death."

The 1 5/8" size that I am using is so powerful that if they attach to each other, it is IMPOSSIBLE to pull them apart without pliers in each hand, and I'm not exaggerating.  I removed the hooks from the magnetic disks, and I was preparing to hot glue the disks to the last of the frames, when their attraction to each other became too much for them to handle, and they slammed together, happy at last.

The problem?  Wikipedia was prophetic.  A small sliver of my left middle finger was between the magnets when their magnetism overwhelmed them.  To say it was painful can't even describe it.  I instantly went a little lightheaded, squeezed my hand closed as hard as I could, then opened it up to evaluate the situation.  The magnets were almost perfectly aligned, and even though I tried (and by trying to do so, I successfully doubled my pain level), I couldn't slide them apart.

What was I going to do?  I ran to the garage, grabbed two pairs of pliers, but since one of my hands was completely incapacitated, I couldn't get any leverage on one of the magnets.  Now what?

I ran out back to our guest house, desperately clutching the pliers and my now-purple finger, hoping that my cousin or his wife were home.


I ran across the street and rang my neighbor's bell.


Just at that moment, through the open front door I heard Evie in the house screaming because she had woken up and couldn't find me.  I was helpless to tend to her until I found an adult who could separate those two magnets, so I continued down the street, ignoring my open front door and my increasingly more frantic daughter.

I ran to the next neighbor's house, rang the bell and waited.


By this point, close to three minutes had passed since the magnets had sandwiched my innocent digit, and I was beginning to wonder if there would be permanent damage to the skin and underlying tissue.  And who was going to help me?

Just then I noticed my neighbor two doors down, pulling out of his garage.  Like a crazy woman, I waved my arms beside the moving car, begging him to roll down his window.  Luckily, John knows me, and he knows that I'm really only a crazy woman when I'm fighting all of my kids during Church, so he quickly rolled down the window and very calmly asked how he could help.

How could he be calm at a time like this?  I was in PAIN!  And I was almost beyond rational thought and speech by this time.

"I need you to get out of the car."  What?

"I need your help.  And I need you to use these pliers to help me."  See why it was a good thing he knew me to be cogent most days of my life? 

"I was using these super strong magnets, and my finger is between them, and I can't get them apart, and the only way to separate them is with two pairs of pliers, and no one else is home, and I can't find anyone to help, and can you help me?"  I don't think I'd reach the hysteria mark yet, but I may have been close.

I slowly unfurled my fingers, praying that I wouldn't tear the skin caught between the two metal disks. John, who is quite a smart man besides being exceptionally kind, evaluated the situation and I watched the light bulb go on in his head.  "Oh. I see what you need." 

Wincing just a bit, I steeled myself for the moment the magnets would release their death grip on me. THat moment wasn't too bad, actually, but the skin of my middle finger was completely white and stood up from the rest of my hand about 1/4".

I gushed my gratitude, and John responded with, "I'm just glad I was pulling out of my driveway right at the right minute."

You and me both.

I walked home a little sheepishly, waved as John drove away, then came back into the house to comfort my squalling daughter.

I would take a picture of my finger today if there were any injury to show you, but all that remains of my stupidity yesterday is a deep tissue bruise that I think will probably heal in a few days.

Can you think of a moral to this story?  Because I need one.


  1. The moral is:

    "Be afraid. Be very afraid."

    (of super powerful magnets)


    PS. Great story, Jen. All the elements there to really pull a reader in...Having said that, I'm glad you kept your digit!



  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. We all need a friend when we are in a tight spot and feeling the squeeze. - sorry couldnt resist!

    Happy tomorrow!

  5. I'm so excited for you! Oh, and also upset about your finger. That was bad. Thank goodness for good neighbors. But tomorrow is the big day! WOOT!

  6. That is crazy! And I laughed so hard picturing you doing this, thanks for the smile! Hope his flight is on time!!!

  7. No there is no moral.
    Just a visual picture in my head of crazy Jen running around the neighborhood.


    Hope the finger is OK and Evie is all snuggled and you are ready for tomorrow!

    EEEEEEE. So happy for you.

  8. Wow. and OUCH! I love happy endings though, so thank you for having one.
    TODAY'S THE DAY!!!! I thought about you last night, knowing your boy, your brilliant, wonderful, missionary boy is coming home today!!
    I am so excited for you, Jen! I hope it is the best day ever!! HUGS!

  9. How necessary is it to have magnets THAT powerful? I was thinking they would be cool to have right up until I read your story and then reconsiderd their "coolness".

  10. magnets suck literally!

    haha oh my i had a laugh! i loved the image of you running down the street

    panic is a horrible feeling! pain too!

    congrats on today! woohoo can't wait for the blog post!

  11. Ouch. That just sounds really painful...and definitely a way to distract you! Not the way I think you had intended up for a while, all you could think of was the magnet pain. :)

  12. Oh that just hurts reading that!! Ouch! So glad you neighbor was able to help