Maybe this is an individual peculiarity of mine, but when I am doing a menial task or suffering in some way, I often consider what circle of Hell (Dante's Inferno) that my labors might be included in.
Today, I found myself spending over an hour tearing the first page from every magazine we have at the library from 2007, then loading boxes with the bulk of the magazines while reserving the barcodes on the torn out pages.
We were doing this because our server had actually honest-to-goodness exploded with a sound resembling the shot of a 22 rifle, according to Computer Man, who was here when the shot went off. The shot appeared to be some kind of computer-y fan/cooling unit, because I observed it lying on the counter this morning when I came to work.
I came to work through roads slicked with ice, too.
But before that, I decided I ought to have additional time to drive, so I used by hair dryer and pulled back my hair, then heated up my hair straightener to control the resulting pony-tail. I grasped the pony-tail firmly and clamped the straightener over my hair.
Except I didn't really clamp it over my hair. In fact, I clamped it over my thumb.
Did I mention I had it on its highest setting?
Now I fully understand what Dobby said in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, when he alluded to having to iron his fingers. Poor Dobby.
My thumb thus seared (medium-rare), I discovered myself to be in blinding pain. I rushed to the kitchen and grabbed the Magic Anesthetic Spray, which I used to dull my growing agony, then covered the area with a non-latex band-aid to ensure that my poor exposed neurons would have some relief. Don't tell me I'm not supposed to do that. I don't care. Try feeling my pain while handling books handled by dozens of other people and all of their filth and disease (even if that is only potential) and then you'll understand my need to cover my destroyed flesh. Poor Extra-Crispy Thumb.
And since our server was down, we had no circulation computers, no internet of any sort, no ability to look up the mystery books our patrons come asking about ("that one by that guy with the girl on the cover?" which turned out to be a James Patterson novel, the bikini one. It's a talent, figuring these things out).
We were, in other words, completely unable to offer any services to the public. And we'd all driving on icy roads to get there, just to do nothing worthwhile.
So we were ripping barcodes out of magazines, because we couldn't withdraw them one by one and we wanted to get rid of them once and for all, because the art department at the city school really wanted them (or so we thought).
While we (all five of us) were employed at tearing out pages, an additional person was pulling them down from shelves and slamming them onto cart after cart, which we took and replaced continuously.
In the process of doing this the following happened: My burn, having fully appeared on the surface of my skin, had revealed itself as having been larger than the bandage employed in covering it. This being the case, part of the burn was exposed (rather painfully) and it responded with sharp jabs of pain with each page I turned in each magazine.
Once I had become accustomed to the actions and their painful consequences, I turned yet another page, and gave myself a paper cut on my horrible burn!
Eyes tearing, I clenched my teeth together and gasped, "Thumb!"
My companions looked up at me, noted the pain I was in, and advised me, "Be careful with that burn, a paper cut would be awful."
They soon realized this was what I had been dealing with just then.
This circle of Hell would have had to be the one for vanity, pride, avarice. You can envision us, I hope, with all our vast technology struck down and leaving us more useless than we could have been fifty years ago when everything we had would have been paper-based, tearing pages from discarded magazines portraying beauty now without worth, worn out images of faces now re-formed, phoenix-like, from the metaphorical ashes of anesthetic and silicone, fat pulled from one part and injected into another in an endless cycle of self-preservation.
And how had I injured myself? In an attempt at beautifying myself, harnessing wind and fire to tame my hair, damaged again and again by the daily ritual of blow-drying and straightening.
Certainly, I have learned today's lesson well:
Watch where you put your hands while you use your hair straightener.
What? Did you think I would stop using it?