(Written in mid July)

Background: The company I work for allows handicapped people to do simple tasks in the factory. Recently a few of them have been doing light assembly with 1 man overseeing them nearby or supposedly so. The workers are paid and managed by the organization that cares for them. Working gives them a sense of purpose. I have seen it change them as they come in  a few days a week and feel they belong. They connect with the “normal” working world I believe, raising their self esteem.
Today a worker was riveting something. Maybe 30 holes to rivet. At one point he leaned over reaching through the mechanism of the riveter. There is a foot pedal that activates the riveter. Apparently he stepped on it while his arm was under the riveting pin. It punched a rivet THROUGH HIS FOREARM. I was told of this by a coworker. I was curious and went up to the front of the company where I was ASTONISHED to see the injured worker standing outside with 2 people from his organization. They were waiting for someone to drive him to the hospital. The injured man STOOD THERE WITH A CIGARETTE IN ONE HAND AND A CAN OF SODA POP IN THE OTHER with a gleaming silver rivet head sticking out of his arm like a very bad idea for a fashion statement. I believe he was in shock. Maybe his mental handicap did not allow for the seriousness of his injury to sink in. There was no blood. My boss said he had tried to pull it out! He stopped seeing bone protruding from the other side of the arm. I told him NEVER pull out an object impaling someone. The object keeps the wound from bleeding much and bleeds like hell once it is removed. Thus it is best to only remove it at a hospital or medical facility. My boss did not like my saying that but it is true. Look it up. Or watch a TV medical drama ;-)
I made a joke to the man about “what are you trying to do, create a new fashion thing with rivets?” He must have been in shock – he laughed at the joke. He apologized for hurting himself and said he hopes to be back on Friday.
He is a “kid” to me. So many people are at my age. A great kid he is. Always friendly. That image is burned on my mind for a while: Goofy kid with a damned RIVET THROUGH HIS ARM smoking a cigarette and drinking a can of Mountain Dew. Nonchalant like nothing happening. If that had happened to me I would have been sitting down waiting for someone to drive me to the damned hospital. FAST! NOT being certified mentally handicapped I would also have been feeling very stupid.
Tomorrow my boss wants me to work on a similar machine doing similar riveting work.

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