Select Page

Inspiration can strike anywhere. Yesterday it hit me between the fourth and fifth toes of the right foot.

I was in the bathroom, attending to wounds that have stubbornly outlived my Career in the Industrial Environment, when the fateful blow fell, and no amount of flushing has so far been able to dispel its aromatic repercussions.

The injury in question was a nasty blistering bunion-thing that had taken up residence between my toes, and seemed quite content to stay there and wait for equity to build in the right-hand foot market. This unwanted neighbor was not a natural outworking of inter-toe relations, but was instead an unpleasant result of one of the lesser known works of the devil: the Steel Toe Safety Shoe.


The operating principle behind the Steel Toe Safety Shoe is simple: take five healthy toes and huddle them together for safety and mutual comfort in a space normally reserved for three. As part of a national conspiracy of podiatrists, Steel Toes are mandatory on most industrial jobs, required by OSHA under the This Little Piggy Protection Act. Personally, I cannot tell you how many times I have reassured myself with the thought that if ever were I to be crushed by falling objects or fashionably pierced by a large steel girder, my toes would live on, safely ensconced in their impact resistant shell.

My toes, however, have never seemed to share this sentiment.

Ingrates that they are, my little foot-digits have never appreciated their years of confinement, and have often displayed their lack of gratitude with random outcroppings of aggravated nerve cells. The only way I have found to soothe this tender situation is to separate my offended extremities like quarrelsome children, sending each one a separate region of the foot, buffered and generally kept out of trouble by small adhesive bandages.

It was while applying these bandages that I noticed something that I had never seen before:


Despite having well over thirty years of experience with my skin and the various punctures, perforations, and warrantee voiding negligence I have subjected it to, I had never noticed that adhesive bandages came equipped with actual step by step directions for their use.

Suprising Directions ~ the Ominous Comma

Like many other mundane chores, such as tying my shoes or the appropriate use of toilet paper, the only instruction I had ever received on bandage application came from my mother. The basic outline goes something like this:

  • Comfort the injured individual. Use reassuring phrases such as “You call that a owie?” or “I’ve had worse than that in my eye.”
  • Clean the wound. Soap and water is acceptable, but for best results use more aggressive disinfectants like iodine, hydrogen peroxide, or paint thinner.
  • Bandage the wound. For maximum adhesive performance, make sure the bandage is long enough to anchor to one or more large patches of hair.
  • Allow the body to heal. Send the wounded individual promptly to bed to take advantage of the body’s special healing abilities that are only available during the broadcast of primetime television.1

Steeped in such a rich tradition of medical training, it never occurred to me that there was a “correct” way to apply a bandage, or that anyone would write it down.

It took a couple of seconds for the implications of my discovery to hit me:

Somebody wrote those instructions.

Somebody was paid to write those instructions.

Suddenly, a whole new career field opened up to me. I didn’t have be a fiction writer, or a non-fiction writer, or even a technical writer, I could be an obvious writer. I could forge a new and glorious career by writing down things that everyone already knows.

Most importantly, no research would be required.

I hope this isn’t a government job.


This post currently being fitted for joke protection at

  1. Note: hyperbole is one of the staple elements in the art of humor. My mother is actually very kind and forgiving. Just the same, if she comes looking for me, I was never here.