Freak state

Monday I went to work wearing my steel capped boots because we had a load of toolboxes to get on a load of pallets or into some steel cages. The steel cages had seemed like a great idea. One metre square and tall, we had visions of stacking up boxes neatly and snugly and sending them on their way across the country.

The reality was of course completely different as every toolbox was different in size and shape. Some had wheels, some had handles, some had padlocks sticking out – some had all three. There was no way they were all going to fit snugly into place but it took some time for reality to sink in as I arranged and re arranged them in different combinations.

Steel caps are great, but it is with good reason that PPE is the last line of defence for occupational safety and health. They gave me an unrealistic sense of invincibility as I thumped about the warehouse heaving boxes and bags around. My superpowers, however, were brought sharply back down to earth when I managed to somehow catch my finger in a freak accident between the metal grill of the cage and a particularly heavy toolbox.

Just as a particular song can take you instantly back to a certain time and place, so too can pain. As soon as it happened, my mind was transported back to December last year when I managed to damage my big toe. I walked away from the cage alternatively shaking my fingers and squeezing them to try and get through the very real feeling of severe blunt trauma. It really hurt – and I am a woman and can theoretically stand the pain of childbirth. After the pain receded, I went back to the toolbox area, only to discover that I was also bleeding quite a lot and so took myself off again to find a first aid kit and some plasters.

It is OK now, three days later, but half the nail is black and I guess I shall just have to wait and see if I lose it. The bleeding may mean that the nail will hang on and it feels OK but pleasingly looks spectacular. It is always so much more satisfactory when something looks quite as bad as it felt.

However black my nail is though, it can not compare to an entire state. Last night a whole state was thrown into blackout as what appeared to be a freak storm knocked out a number of critical bits of infrastructure and the entire power grid shut itself down. The whole of South Australia was plunged into a mediaeval existence as the lights went out, the transport stopped and any communication that was not battery-powered ceased. It seemed almost impossible to believe as I watched from the safety of Western Australia, that it could happen – that everything was so interlinked that not one pocket of power remained.

Of course the politicians are now blaming climate change – or renewable energy – or both, but the fact still remains that a whole state’s worth of people were without power for hours and power is the one thing we take for granted until it fails and leaves us with no entertainment or light and a fridge full of rotten food.

So I count my blessings and my nails, which still number ten, and hope the freak storm will be travelling east and fast enough to have moved off the coast and away by the time our truck full of toolboxes hits the SA border and we head over to visit Melbourne next week.


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