It’s Okay I’m Alive: The Hazards of Writing
By Bobby Winters
This begins on Sunday afternoon when I went to the España Supermercado to get pencils. I’m doing some mathematical writing and for that I like to use pencils for the first few drafts so I bought a pack of two HBs that had a free sharpener in it.
The sharpener broke upon its first use.
To make a long story just a little bit shorter, let me say that I decided to buy a pen knife without knowing the word for pen knife. After numerous attempts at that from stores and street venders--one street vendor didn’t have a knife but he was good enough to sell me a pair of reading glasses I didn’t want--I managed to get a Swiss Army Knife. I felt a thrill of victory upon succeeding. I can sharpen pencils now, after all. A whole world is opened to me, just like when Adam ate the apple.
I walk to teach each day and over the course of my first week I’ve put together a kit to make it seamless. I had brought a brown file packet from my office to organize papers in. I bought a shopping bag from España Supermercado to carry that in; useful and a souvenir when all is done. I got an umbrella because it’s rained every day I’ve been here. I carry it in the bag too.
My one problem, a first world problem in every sense, was that my usb drive that I have my powerpoints on was just lying around loose. I had found a keyring to attach to the usb drive, but I didn’t have anyplace to attach the other end.
Then I got a great idea: I would take my Swiss Army knife and poke a hole in the brown file packet.
Someone just played a minor chord in the background.
The tiny Swiss Army knife pushed through the cardboard and went into my left index finger. My first thought was it didn’t hurt much. My second thought was, “Gee, that’s a lot of blood.” My third thought was, “That is really a lot of blood.”
It was getting on my papers; it was getting on one of the two pair of khakis that I brought.
I somehow took myself into the bathroom which began to look like one of the Hound’s scenes from Game of Thrones. I will need to clean it before tomorrow or the cleaning lady might call the cops.
Once I got the flow staunched and my finger wrapped in the Hotel Chaco’s finest toilet paper, I did what any man in my position would do. I messaged my wife and asked her how to get blood out of pants. It is “flowing cold water” if this ever happens to you, by the way.
Then I went to the farmcia a few blocks away to get a band-aid; it is a fancy place with two armed guards. I discovered something. Even though you can get (almost?) any sort of medicine without a prescription here, they keep the band-aids behind the counter.
After a brief reconnoiter, I saw a girl at the counter who was doing nothing. NOTHING. I said, “Lo siento. No hablo mucho español. Yo me corto. Necesito, como dice, bandaids.”
She very sweetly took me too a reel of take and gave me a number, It was E89. After waiting no more than one minute, a much more experienced-looking woman waved me over and took my number. Then she made me give her my hand and washed the blood off. She put an antibiotic powder on it, and then a band-aid. The price of that and a pack of band-aids was 5000 guaranis. The exchange rate is currently 5400 guaranis to the dollar.
So, long story short. I am alive, but it is hell to type with a bandaged index finger.