Member Rara Avis
Ringo, my scariest incident on a bike was around 1989. I had just picked up a new one from the dealer and wanted to see what she had.
The scene was Katella Avenue, one of the busiest streets in Orange County. When the light changed to green, I popped the clutch and experienced instant, very gratifying speed. Unfortunately, as all riders well know, a bike's get-up-and-go always seems to greatly exceed its now-it's-time-to-stop. When lights started blinking and barriers started to drop at a train crossing half a block from my green light, I knew there was no way in hell I could stop in time.
I should have laid the bike down, but I justified my reluctance for that maneuver with the thought I'd probably end up skidding to a stop right on the train tracks (which was perhaps an accurate assessment, but the truth was … it was a brand new bike!). I took the tip of one wooden arm on the handle bars, snapping off three foot like a karate chop, all the time holding my breath as I looked down the tracks to see just how close the train might be. I was, once again, lucky, and the locomotive was still a quarter mile distant. I walked away (drove, actually) without a scratch.
When I sold that bike three years later, it still had a nasty smudge of white paint just below the handle bars.
Kari, most of my worst injuries have been burns.
I was just a kid, working in a local restaurant, and had to clean the fryer at the end of my shift. Turn the gas fryer off, drain the still hot oil, filter it to remove all the food and crusties, then return it to the fryer. I had done it a hundred or more times. There's a screen that sits on the hitting coils, maybe six inches below the oil level, designed to catch the largest of the errant crusties. Standard procedure was to snag said screen with a table fork and remove it before draining. Piece of cake.
What do you do when you accidentally drop a fork?
Here's a hint. Trying to grab it before it falls may be instinctive, but it's a really bad answer. I stuck my hand, almost up to the wrist, into oil that was still about 300 degrees. Needless to say, I didn't leave it there very long.
I had been burnt often enough already that my first reaction (even before swearing) was to get my hand in ice, which fortunately was only a few feet from the grill area. The ice leeches the heat from the still cooking flesh and can prevent a really bad burn from becoming a serious, disfiguring burn. I had blisters on top of my blisters, pain that brought tears to a grown man's eyes, but survived the incident without even scars to show for it.
All things considered in my life, one broken collar bone in 54 years is almost a miracle.