, Corbin, KY

September 19, 2013

Clumsiness is a trait; poor judgment can be fixed


CORBIN — The klutz is at it again.

Last week I was walking in an area I’ve walked through several times before.

I know where everything usually is, even if it was located in the path of travel — I knew it so well, I would often walk it in the dark.

But if it’s going to happen, a betting man would make some good odds in my favor.

I was walking along, aiming for the dim outline of the exit door.

Suddenly, something was in the way of my right foot.

Before I could get a full expletive out of my mouth, I sent the bottom half of my face head-on into an old computer monitor.

And when I came up, I realized I sent one of my front teeth through my bottom lip.

It was pretty bloody, as most head wounds are, but here it is, a week later, and all that remains is a swelled lip and a pair of nearly-healed cuts.

Another day, another disaster.

A few years ago I was running a machine and hydraulic design and repair shop — there, too, the inherent clumsiness in me emerged in full array.

One day during a particularly sweltering September we were packing up for the day to head home. The building I rented was huge, but had no HVAC system set up — so hot summer days outside meant hot sweaty days inside.

Winters, of course, were the same way — but much colder.

But I digress.

As it was so hot, we had rigged an industrial fan to pull air through the building, giving at least a few degrees of cooler air.

I was collecting various this and thats, and turned off the big fan.

I was carrying a garbage bag, which I had already shook to open up all the way.

I walked by the fan and Whoosh! — the blades were still spinning, and the bag got caught in the belt.

It wound up the garbage bag all the way to my hand — cutting two of my fingers nearly to the bone.

My imagination says that had the blades been at full force, I would have only been able to count to eight.

There was one day at that shop that for some reason I wasn’t there — thankfully. That was the day the roof, which leaked incessantly, finally gave way to sending water straight into the building’s circuit breaker, which led to the entire steel structure acting as an electrical conduit. Apparently you could hear the sparks of electricity all through the building.

Had I been there that day, I would have typically leaned back in my chair for something, and touched one of those beams right behind my desk.

I often wonder if clumsiness is something of an inherited trait.

But then I sent a picture of my punctured lip to my sisters, one of whom has a son and daughter.

The kids’ mother called me, chuckling.

Apparently my 2-year-old nephew, in a typical 2-year-old’s way, was having a bit of a crazy time with his sister.

In a great display of clumsiness and clatter, my nephew sent his face head-on into a cushion-covered box in which my sister keeps blankets.

He sent his tooth through his lip as well — about four hours before I did.

My niece is the same way — she has already been carried off to the emergency room, bleeding from two different head-wound accidents.

I think maybe the klutz torch in me has been officially been passed on — and in flying colors.

Of course, I say all this with a point in mind.

I was driving this week on two separate occasions in two separate places.

Both days I drove where many others typically walk.

Day one — a girl of maybe 20 or 21 was walking along the sidewalk, chatting away on her cell phone.

I saw her, thankfully — because all of a sudden, she apparently decided she was late for something and darted across the road.

I stood on the brakes, hearing the blaring screech of tires — I missed her by no more than two feet.

She never looked. She never blinked. But she did jump a few feet in the air when I honked the car horn at her.

And then she flipped me off.

How nice. I nearly kill you because you forgot the rule of looking both ways first — and when I let you know, you act like a lady.

Then yesterday, I was out and about again — and this time a guy pulled this same stunt. Only he was texting with headphones in his ears, and while a good two dozen of his counterparts were utilizing the very marked crosswalk, he was playing “rebel” and trying to get himself killed.

Clumsiness is one thing — I’m plagued with it, and I fear my niece and nephew both will suffer through it as well. I also had a cousin, who for a time, was going neck in neck with me on accidents — she managed to break both arms sliding into base playing softball. She also finished the game that day.

So my theory is that clumsiness is a character trait — but performing painfully obvious acts of sheer poor judgment making can be fixed with a little bit of learning and thinking.

Otherwise the wrong car will be coming alongside you, and this one will never stop in time.

John Ross is a reporter for the Times-Tribune. He can be reached at