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How I Met Your Father :: I Don’t Follow Safety Protocol

Dear Calliope,

Your dad and I crossed paths many times before we finally fell in love. And it all started with a giant bag of ice.

Wait, back up. It actually started with me being a giant klutz. Some things never change, huh?

I was twenty years old and working at United Parcel Service. One second I was talking to a co-worker, mindlessly tapping my hands along the side of the conveyor belt that carries the packages throughout the building and the next second - schleeerp - my gloved hand was sucked into the machine. I screamed. My co-worker shut the belt off and extracted my hand. I peeled off my glove to reveal a nasty but not life-threatening burn. Someone called for a Safety rep and I sat down and waited for them to bring me an ice pack.

I waited. And waited. And waited.

Meanwhile, your dad was listening to the repeated call for an ice pack and thinking, “This is dumb. There’s an ice machine right there.” He found the most appropriate container he could - a plastic garbage bag - and filled it with ice. And I mean, filled it. The bag he brought me probably had five pounds of ice in it. For my hand. But it was a kind and resourceful thing to do, and those are two of the qualities that I would come to love in your father.

In his version of the story, he is a hero, emerging from the smoke in slow motion, probably shirtless, to save my hand from myself. In reality, he was a guy with some ice and I was too worried about my injury to do anything more than mutter a weak "thank you."

It would be another year before we really talked again. We ran into each other one night in the maze of machinery that filled the UPS hub and I asked him what he was doing for Halloween.

“I’m going to my brother’s,” he said. “We cut a hole in a table and I’m gonna sit under it and stick my head through to scare the trick-or-treaters.”

What? I had clearly misjudged this guy because he did not seem like the type to get up to Halloween shenanigans. What else didn’t I know?

I would eventually learn that he loves B-movies, boxing, and Rod Stewart. That he is generous to a fault. That he doesn’t like things “ironically,” he just likes them.  And that when he sees a bored young kid in line at the grocery store, he’ll juggle packs of gum for their entertainment. It was this last bit that really made me fall for him.

Young and in love. And wearing a free shirt I got from UPS.
Young and in love. And wearing a free shirt I got from work.

Four years after the incident with the ice, I got myself into trouble again. I was walking on a conveyor belt I should not have been walking on. It started running underneath me, sending me flying and landing hard on my shoulder. I clung to the side of the machine, trying desperately to scramble off so I wouldn’t get smacked in the face with someone’s Amazon order, or worse, caught between two belts and mangled.

And then I saw your dad. He had picked the perfect moment to come to my area to say hello to me. And that moment was in slow motion. The smile dropped from his face when he saw me and he leaped over another moving belt to get to me and pull me to safety. My t-shirt was torn, half-eaten by the conveyor belt, and I was shaken but otherwise okay. This time he really was my hero. It's not why I married him, but it certainly didn't hurt.

When I got pregnant with you I wanted to keep working as long as possible. But when my doctor put me on lifting restriction, UPS said they could not approve light duty. Apparently two UPSers making a baby does not qualify as a “workplace injury.” Who knew?

A rare picture of us inside the hub. I am pregnant, so it’s technically a family photo.
A rare picture of us inside the hub. I am pregnant, so it’s technically a family photo.

At 17 weeks pregnant, I worked my last day. I had the opportunity to go back after my maternity leave ran out, but your dad and I decided it would be best if I stayed home. Turning my badge in was bittersweet. What started out as something to pass the time and make some extra money set me on a path for a fun and amazing life. What if he had taken a job at FedEx instead? What if I never hurt my hand or if Safety had been quicker with the ice pack? Would we all still be here today? I don’t know but we are here and I couldn’t be happier or more grateful.

Remember that if you ever find yourself wishing your dad had a cooler job.


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