It was my lucky day. I was in Menards and walked past the chainsaw section and saw some new safety bibs.
I had been cutting wood in the shelterbelt around our farmstead, but hadn’t been wearing my old chainsaw safety chaps. I’ve gained weight since I bought the chaps 20 years ago, and they just didn’t fit around the waist anymore. I had even tried using a rope to hold them up without success.
“But did I really need the chaps?” I wondered.
I had cut wood for 40 years and never had an accident.
The new safety bibs looked like they would be easy to wear, though. They didn’t cinch at the waist. Instead they had suspenders.
So, I bought the bibs and tossed them on the counter I got home. I didn’t wear them right away, but one night when I was changing clothes to go out and work on the dead trees I thought, “Well, I spent $30 for these darn things, I better use them.”
So, I put the bibs on and walked out to the grove. I fired up the saw and started cutting a tree limb. The limb was about chest high and had to be removed to provide access to the tree trunk where I wanted to make the felling cut.
Either the limb was a lot more rotten than I thought, or the new chain on the saw was a lot more aggressive than the old, dull one it had replaced, but the saw roared through the limb like a hot knife through soft butter. In a flash, before I could lift my finger off the trigger, the revving chainsaw blade fell onto my thigh.
Then THUNK! The safety bib stopped the saw cold.
There was a gash in the bib where the chain teeth bounced against my leg. Through the hole, long strands of safety mesh had been pulled out and jammed the gear, bringing the saw to a stop.
In the sudden silence of the shelterbelt, I realized I had gotten lucky. If I hadn’t been wearing the safety bib, I would have cut my leg down to the bone, maybe even cut it off.
It had all happened so fast.
It was my lucky day.