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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tire Change pt 3

I lay there on the cool concrete
My left foot trapped under the now flat tire of the aircraft
Sandy grit ground on the back of my head every time I moved it
Which I did occasionally

As the view of the bottom of the DC-8's wing was not the most inspiring

I found myself staring past the trailing edge of the flaps
All retracted into the wing
At the starry sky that domed over the prairie
As that carpet of stars wheeled overhead imperceptibly
Twinkling as it went

The pain in my foot had dulled to a receded roar in my ears
And I couldn't feel my toes anymore
Which worried me a bit
But there wasn't anything I could do about it

All my tools were in the back of the truck bed
Ten feet and an infinite distance away
All I had was my almost dead flashlight
And some pocket change

I'd even lost the little valve stem remover when the internal pressure had flung the stem past my face

Must have dropped it in the excitement of the moment
Not that it would have done me any good to have had it

If I had a knife
I could attempt to saw the tire apart
Which I would have done until my strength failed me
But that was in my tool bag as well

I'd make a terrible MacGyver

So I watched the stars
Distracted occasionally by the movement of a satellite across the otherwise motionless star field
Or a distant loud car or truck on the far off highway
Even the animals had stopped making noise at his hour

I looked
And my watch told me it was 4 am

I picked out a particularly pretty star
Which seemed a bit purpley to me
And made the wish that this hadn't happened to me
Or that I had a coworker working with me
Who could have helped get this thing off of me

But this was what I'd asked for
Though not literally this
Just the situation

"Third shift is the best!
I'd never go to day shift
No way!"
I'd said on more than one occasion

After some company cutbacks
I'd been the last one left on the shift
Mostly because I was stubborn in my love of it
The cool calm of the night at the still airport
And working on the aircraft by myself
Almost like a calming drug
Addictive and potent

I made another stupid wish
That I'd have accepted my transfer to first shift when it had been offered three weeks before

Being stuck like this makes one wish for silly things

I was busy wishing I had chosen a different career
When my eyes got heavy and I dozed off for a few seconds

Only to be shaken awake hours later in the light of the sun
By Tom
The first shift lead mechanic

Things were kind of a blur after that

I couldn't feel my foot anymore
At least until the other mechanics found a Ram jack
And inserted it under the aft main landing gear axle
Easily lifting the tire from my foot

That's when it started to hurt in earnest
As the blood flowed back into the end of my foot
Some leaking out of the top of my boot as it was elevated upon a spare milk crate from the truck

They say I'm lucky I kept any of my toes at all

Once the ambulance had gotten me to the hospital
And the ER staff removed my boot with thick cutters
We had seen that all five toes were still attached
But the steel toe had partially severed the three inboard toes
Doing what it was supposed to do

Or so I read somewhere

Back on my feet after a few weeks of recovery
I can definitely tell that my big toe and the one next to it are missing
Who knew that they were so important to walking and balancing?
But the therapist tells me I'll get used to it after awhile

I'll be back at work soon
And some of my wishes have come true in a way
Those that I had wished upon the stars overhead some weeks ago
While on the cold ramp
Under the old airplane

I was going to day shift
I had lost my love of the solo third shift
Which was no longer a solo shift as per new company policy

The day shift had come in early that day for some reason
And gotten me help a little sooner than I had figured
Maybe saving one of my toes

But I'm glad one wish hadn't come true
For it had been made in the heat of the moment of regret and self pity

I was glad I worked in aviation
For there is still no place that this now eight-toed me would rather be