22 April 2014

Meat Tales

My dad was a butcher.  Eventually he ran a whole grocery store around his meat counter, but he was Master Butcher. My dad could really cut you some fine Del Monacos, you know what I'm saying!

I grew up working at different jobs in my dad's grocery. I did check-out and carry-out, stocked items from baby food to Campho-Phenique, sorted and maintained produce, made doughnuts and wrote big, loopy Happy Birthdays on cakes.

I didn't work in the meat department, though. I think my dad didn't want me running the machines there. Particularly because we had witnessed the Freakiest and Most Screamingly Horrifying Injury in All History, there in our meat department. 

It was fairly early in my childhood grocery career when my Aunt Margaret, who had been working in the meat department for some time, got her hand pulled down into the meat tenderizer. 

Do you know what a meat tenderizer is, exactly? Here's like our store's meat grinder, top-down view. Think Swiss Steak. How it works: Steaks go between those blades and come out the bottom . . . "Swissed."  

So, okay, my Aunt Margaret's fingers went in between the blades and the machine kept pulling and pulling. Someone shut it off. (There must be safety mechanisms now.) When the machine stopped, poor Aunt Margaret was screaming. The blades had already cut clear up into her knuckles and a ways into the palm.

For this post, I looked at images of meat tenderizer injuries and decided not to post one. If you want to see, though, those are the search terms: meat tenderizer injuries.

My aunt had good movement and sensation in her hand (considering) within a few years of the injury. I have an image memory of her hands right after hospital:  swollen and with the fingers and palms riddled through with black stitches.

This may have influenced me in not becoming a butcher like the old man.

Like this, but dozens of these, all through her hand.