The Smashed Finger

It was a cold February morning in 1971. My dad had leased a truck out to a Trucking Company in San Antonio with me driving it. I would spend all week living in a small rundown motel, The Spur, that was along I-10 on the east side of San Antonio. The trucking yard was just down the frontage road. Most of the time I hauled equipment around San Antonio, but one afternoon I was dispatched to a steel company on north I-35 to load steel beams to go to a new building being built in Houston.

I got loaded and parked the truck in the yard for the night. I left out really early the next morning. I pulled in for fuel at a Texaco Truck Stop before I got to Seguin, Tx. There was a coating of ice all over everything. I could tell the chains were loose on the load, so I tightened them all and when I got to the last one I had my left ring finger in the wrong place and the boomer clamped shut on it. Just on the very end. I managed to get it out and headed on down the highway with a rag wrapped around it.

It really hurt but I had no choice but to get the load to a building site on Westhiemer Blvd. in Houston by 10:00 AM. Later when I pulled the rag off it had swollen to 3 times its normal size. Just like a huge blood blister. I remember I couldn’t hold on to the steering wheel with my left hand because the vibration made it even worse.

I somehow made it all the way to Houston, unloaded and started back to San Antonio. Every time my heart would beat, I could feel it in my finger tip. I had little money and even less experience in going to a doctor, so I continued driving.

I finally pulled into a rest area somewhere near Schulenberg, to figure out what to do. I knew I had to get some relief. I pulled out my pocketknife, which was always a sharp as I could make it. I stuck the point in the underside of the last digit and ripped about a one inch long incision all the way to the end.

It looked like a crime scene. There was an unbelievable amount of blood all over the inside of the truck cab. That mattered little to me at that point. The moment I did that I felt no more pain. There was an euphoria that overcame me. I actually not only felt better, I was cheerful and sat there laughing. I guess it was such a relief that I felt. With a rag wrapped around my finger I continued on back to San Antonio.

The finger healed, but since that time my fingernail has always grown out split, leaving it being bothersome is about all.

But it’s a constant reminder of the old days.

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