As I write this, I feel it important to just get it out there that while this is really hard for me, I feel that in keeping quiet, I am harming those who may fall prey, as well as endorsing the silence of those who have already suffered.
You see, this morning, as I was walking to the bus and wondering to myself what I may encounter on my trip- would it be a toothless man stroking my hair?- perhaps a boisterous young woman prattling on about her life with her baby daddy, the story peppered with platitudes?- or maybe today was simply about hacking coughs and interesting smell combinations- my thoughts were interrupted in the most brutal of ways.
At first I thought I’d been shot in the head. I’ve been told by stoned hippies and Andy Wood that everything slows down when you die and the eternity you experience in that moment is heaven, so I didn’t question why it was that I had time to wonder if anyone had good reason to shoot me in the head. I noted that heaven looked exactly like Van Nuys, and, deciding that was likely not accurate, I determined that I hadn’t been shot in the head.
But something had caused me a great amount of pain and had left a welt on the back of my dome and even messed my hair a bit. I turned to see a landscaper just weed whacking away, wearing his gloves and protective eye wear. He was so engrossed in clearing the weeds around the edge of the Chase Bank that he didn’t even notice how narrow my eyes were getting.
I didn’t know what to do next. I crossed the street in a trance, thinking about how unjust a place the world can be. I’ve never been a fan of yard equipment in general, waging silent thought-wars against the gardener who thinks he should blow the leaves around my yard at 7 a.m. on Saturdays, and having had a few unsavory experiences with spiders crawling out of lawn mowers to attack me as I tried to pull the chord. And whilst I would never lay hands on a weed whacker because they terrify me and seem like a thing Freddy Krueger would use to torture an avid teen 4-H member, I also never foresaw the day that my life would be so touched by what I will now start calling “The Devil’s Ricochet Rod”.
Once on the bus, I turned to the person next to me and whispered, “I got hit in the head with a rock.” I think that they wrongly assumed I was today’s bus-related crazy-tainment, on account of the way they switched to another seat. I had never felt so alone. And based on such lack of empathetic response, I couldn’t even bring myself to mention it on Facebook.
When I got to work, though, enough indignant fire had built up in my belly that I knew I had to do something. But what could I do that would possibly matter? There is no way I can reasonably be expected to be able to gather and destroy every weed whacker in the land. And so, I called the bank.
“Chase Bank, how can I help you today?”
“I got hit in the head with a rock.”
“This morning, I was walking to the bus, which I hate taking, and I walked past your bank. Your landscaper was there, whacking weeds, and the weed whacker chucked a rock at me. It hit me in the head.”
“I’m sorry, start again? You were in the bank-”
“No, I was standing on the corner waiting to cross the street. You need to tell your landscaper that he needs to be careful and that he should stop whacking immediately when there are people around.”
At this point his voice broke. I assume he had to take a moment to hold back the tears, so I let him compose himself.
“I’m very sorry that happened, and I will be sure to pass your message along to our manager.”
Once I hung up I felt as if the weight of a pile of rocks had lifted from my soul. Would I ever be the same again after what I’d been through. Well, no. Absolutely not. Who could be? But in my way I had taken back the night, and I knew that I could begin to heal the pain.
To date, there are no support groups for those who have suffered lawn equipment related injuries, which is unacceptable given that (based on my careful mental estimation) 7 million people are victims of such events each day. I urge you, stop hiding your experience under the bushel of shame, and stand tall. Let your voices be heard, lest this plague one day render you voiceless by, say, law mowing over your throats.
I’m taking my stand today, and I promise you, whenever you’re ready, I’ll be still standing.
The woman on the left has to spend the rest of her life headless due to a weed whacker related injury. When it happened, she was days away from getting married and had landed her dream job as a hat model.