8.31.2008

Cheese Grater Story

Products often have humorous warning labels, such as a costume with a cape that includes the tag, “Does not allow wearer to fly.” These warnings seem funny to us because honestly, who would do some of these things? These warnings seem hysterically obvious yet, in many cases, they exist because someone somewhere may not have found such details as obvious as the rest of us.

One of the things my company does is sell a variety of products. Every three weeks or so I get an office full of clothing, appliances, books, tools, jewelry, and more. I figure out how I'm going to design ads for each item, and take low resolution digital photos to show our photo studio how I'd like them to be shot. It can be an interesting job, and often we'll get a new item that's a challenge to depict, but rarely would I call it a dangerous job.

Among the assortment in my office last week was an authentic replica of a military sword. Wrapped in plastic and bubble wrap with its scabbard, the item was well-oiled. I carefully cut away the tape holding everything together, and wiped the blade down with a paper towel before taking it to the men's room to rinse it off in the sink. Indeed, I walked down the hall brandishing a three-foot blade without giving it a second thought, until I was at the sink and other guys showed up to wash their hands in the neighboring sink. At that point I realized how funny it must appear, no doubt failing to suppress a smirk.

I finished cleaning the sword, brought it back to my office and photographed it, wrapping it and the scabbard in some fresh plastic before moving on to the next product. By the next day, all items were shot and safely locked in my drawers until my meeting with the studio. I proceeded to go through my shots and composite them into the backgrounds I'd want to use for my layouts, when one of my writers showed up and asked to see one of the items.

It took a few drawers to find what she was looking for, a plastic strainer that adjusted to fit across any sink. It included a cutting board and a variety of attachments for grating cheese, slicing meat, and more. After I showed it to her and explained its uses, she had enough to go write a description. At this point, I noticed there was something sticky on the side of the plastic.

“Don't tell me someone left a melted candy in that drawer...?” was my first thought. When I joined the company a little over a year ago, one of the drawers contained a lot of sugar, more loose than in packets. I wouldn't be surprised if the previous occupant left candy as well. I turned the item over, noting various red blotches, thinking perhaps it was some kind of berry instead. No matter where I held the item, it was sticky, and I finally considered that the red stuff might be blood.

Checking the fingertips of my left hand, I found nothing. I wasn't so lucky when I checked my right hand and saw all my fingertips were bloody, with the tip of my middle finger entirely covered in a sea of red. I felt a familiar head rush but managed to stay calm and dismiss it as anxiety and not blood loss. I pieced together that when I held it to show my writer, the cheese grater attachment that fits into a recess on top had little metal triangles pointing up that were amazingly sharp. Apparently I grabbed the item in this area and punctured skin without even feeling it.

Wrapping my hand in a paper towel, I calmly walked down the hall to the restroom, made my way to the sink, and ran cold water over my hand. When I brought myself to look I saw no blood, at least until I pulled my hand away from the stream of water. Then a rose bloomed on the tip of my middle finger, from the tiniest of cuts. It was only one and small, but it was deep. Every time I took my hand away from the water, it started bleeding again.

I wrapped it in some clean towels and kept pressure on it, taping the whole mess up when I got back to my desk. I wiped the plastic of the strainer down thoroughly, as the photo studio probably wouldn't appreciate getting something covered in my blood. After about ten minutes I was brave enough to unwrap the bloody towels and check my finger. The bleeding had stopped, but typing was going to prove difficult. I checked with one of my friends to find out if he had any bandages or knew where the company had a first aid kit. I lucked out in that he had both Band-Aids and alcohol swabs, and I was able to properly clean and dress the wound.

It may seem obvious not to hold a cheese grater by the metal blades, but you can bet I'll be letting the appropriate people know that we should include a warning about sharp edges in our promotion. Accident-prone as I am, I'm just impressed and amazed by the irony and improbability that I split open a finger on a 1/16” blade, and yet avoided injury when I cleaned a 3-foot sword a day prior.

2 Comments:

Blogger Rey said...

Probably all types of infections. Gross.

9/01/2008 1:48 PM  
Blogger Darrell said...

I have a similar story that I should tell sometime. It involves using a (surprisingly sharp) pocket knife to open the box that a new PC mouse came in ... and bleeding all over myself in the parking lot at Staples.

9/01/2008 5:41 PM  

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