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Not a Bright Idea

FORT MEADE, Md. -- So there I was, working at my job before I entered the military. As a cashier at a local superstore, my day, for the most part, had been fairly routine. I stood at my register checking out customer after customer. Most of them were nice and even struck up short conversations with me. However, a couple of people who came through my line were very rude.

The customers kept complaining to me about something that wasn’t my fault and that I could not fix. These incidents had made me irritable. So I was looking forward to getting off work and going home to relax.

About an hour before my shift was over, my supervisor approached me. She had me shut down my register because she had a job for me. She explained that a few of the cash register lightbulbs (the ones that light up to let you know that the register is open) needed to be replaced. She said once I took care of that, I could go home.

Score! … I was excited because I figured I could get this chore done in 20 minutes and be out of there.

I retrieved the lightbulbs off the shelf and went to switch out the old ones. I reached up to unscrew the first burned out bulb from its socket. I couldn’t really see what I was doing, and the bulb was screwed in quite tightly. Instead of grabbing a step stool to work from a better vantage point, I started trying to unscrew the bulb by twisting on the glass instead of the plastic base.

It didn’t budge, so I grasped the bulb harder until, inevitably, it shattered in my hand.

The broken glass sliced open my left index finger.

My lacerated digit bled profusely. I ran to the restroom to rinse the wound and apply some paper towels to it. Instead of going home to relax as I had been yearning to do, I ended up spending my evening at urgent care where they sewed four stitches into my finger.

It took weeks for my pointer to heal. To this day, I have hardened scar tissue underneath the surface of my finger.

After the incident, I had a few lessons learned to reflect upon. I first let myself get distracted by being agitated with customers. Then, I got a case of get-home-itis, which caused me to rush the task I was doing. Throw in a dash of poor decision-making and complacency, and I had cooked up a recipe for disaster. Had I taken the time to do the job correctly and safely, my night would have turned out a whole lot better.