Monday, August 25, 2014

Help! An Amputee at the Waterpark!

 On Monday, August 18, the No-Handed Bandit hit the water park with his niece and nephew, from henceforth I will call them niblings (non-gender plural form for niece and nephew). It wasn't the first time to a water park and it won't be the last. I have a water park season pass and I hadn't used it this year plus I wanted to spend time with my niece and nephew before they hit the rebellious years. Funny because some of the things they learned from me probably weren't good things.

It started off as we came into the parking lot. Now mind you, a lot of what I'm about to say is not fact but opinion. This water park is in Provo and I find it fascinating that as a very conservative town, they have a ton of regulation. One of the regulations I despise is the streets that surround the water park are a no parking zone. This pretty much forces you to park in the water park's parking lot. The cost to park there is $7. If you know me, you know I don't mind telling people my opinion. So as we pull up to the parking lot attendant's window, which just happens to be conveniently located in my side, I pay him the money. He says his thank you and then I say, "Thank you," and a medium pause and then burst out, "For ripping me off!" My sister, who is driving, puts the foot on the gas and zooms away while we are laughing out loud. I don't know if that was a good thing to teach my niblings and they probably think I'm crazy but the latter is very likely.
After entering the park, we find a little spot to lay are stuff. My sister is very pregnant so she won't be able to ride many rides. She will be spending a lot of time on a chair or in the wave pool. The kids will be running around with their crazy uncle, who will not be wearing prosthetics, and our first matter of business is renting tubes. This always introduces the question, where do we put the wrist band? I'm usually propping my leg up on the counter while suggesting they put it around the ankle. This time the band is too skinny but my niece suggests they put two bands on her arm. It works.

Our second mission, we decided to get wet in the wave pool. My sister joined us. I took my tube and was flipping, rolling and bouncing off it. At times, the tube was right side up and other times it was  upside down. Suddenly I hear a whistle. The life guard is yelling at me to turn the tube so the handles are up. I asked, "Why?" He replied, "Because people drown when the handles are upside down." I can be a smart-aleck at times. This was one of those times. I replied, putting my arms in the air, "What does it matter? I can't grab the handles anyway! I got no hands!" He said, "Just flip the tube over." While giggling, I comply.

Provo is a very homogeneous town. Again, that's my opinion. To me, there aren't too many people who think outside of the box there. Or if they do they don't let it show and I believe it is because there is a fear of being different. From the 2010 census, the city is 84.8% Caucasian. A stat from the year 2000 taken by the Association of Religion Data Archives says Provo is 98% Latter Day Saint or "Mormon". Now, if you add in the fact that we are in an expensive water park, that makes it even more homogeneous considering that poverty rates of minorities are higher and they won't be as likely to be able to afford the water park.

At this point you may be wondering, "Now what in the world does all this have to do with being an amputee at the water park?" Ok, I'm getting to the point right now, LOL. I am a "Mormon" or a Latter Day Saint but other than that there isn't very much more that I have in common with the population inside the water park. In what seems like sea of blonde hair and blue eyed-people, a tall, tan guy with no hands is standing out like a sore thumb. Naturally people are staring, pointing and whispering at an alarming rate in my vicinity. I can imagine now how self-conscious an injured zebra might feel while surrounded by a pack of laughing hyena.

I really had never felt so self-conscious in my whole amputee life. Every other time where a normal person would have felt self-conscious, I have been able to block it out. Usually, a simple smile breaks the ice and everybody is chill but the smile wasn't working and I couldn't figure out why. Thinking back on it, I'm chalking it up to the homogeneity in handling a disfigured person. The worst way, to me, for people to handle it is for the kids to be told and signaled to, "shhhhhh and don't look." My problem with that is it takes away my secret weapon, my smile. To add to the conundrum, I'm not wearing prosthetics and the prosthetic arms generally brings the "cooooool" reaction from most little boys.

The Avalanche Mat Racer

Our first ride we go on is a multi-lane race slide called, Avalanche Mat Racer. For the ride, one must retrieve a mat at the bottom of the ride and carry it up to the start. When on the ride, one must lay or sit on the mat while the descend in a race to the finish. Just our luck, there is no line for the mats. We go on the ride relatively fast and at the bottom, people are waiting in line for their turn with the mats. While walking to the people in line, I let the niblings know I beat them and ask if they want to go again. We all agree to go again.

As we approach the people waiting for a mat, I see people that had just slid with us just keep their mats and go ascend to the beginning of the ride. I consciously say to my niece and nephew in a bellowing voice, "Let's give our mats to the people waiting and get in the back of the line." 

One thing I learned as a child was a thing called, "sharing". You may have heard of it and try to pass it on to my niblings. It goes along closely with respect and not thinking you are better or above anybody else. I remember when playing Nintendo with my siblings, we would give each other the controller after even one guy died or one guy passed a level. My father taught us that vocally and sometimes forcefully. When playing basketball or football, he taught us that almost subconsciously. He made a big deal about making sure everybody gets to score points or gets to touch the ball. I believe that to be a cultural thing. Samoans want everybody to join in on the fun.

Contrast that with what I learned, as an eight-year-old, at a sleepover at my elementary school friend Andy Brimhall. We were playing Mike Tyson's Punch Out on his Nintendo. He takes a turn and gets his character knocked out on the game. To my utter disbelief, he keeps the controller. "Ok, that's fine. Maybe they will just play their three guys and then let the others have a turn in a fair and systematic fashion," is what I'm thinking. Well, I was wrong. After he got all his guys knocked out, he just said, "I want to try again." Somehow the way these guys were raised up is that the more assertive you are the better. Well, I wasn't raised that way and so my passive self got to play one time that day and my turn only lasted until my guy got one TKO.

Fast forward back to the water park as an adult amputee. My niblings and I are waiting at the back of the line for mats. Three young men, just finished with the ride, decide they are taking their mats and skipping the people waiting for a mat to go back on the ride. I was angered by this but held it in. The man in front of the mat line says, "Hey, bring those mats over here." The boys come over and one starts complaining, "Oh so it doesn't matter that we had to wait ten minutes for these."
For me, it's one thing to have been caught red handed and sheepishly give up your mat with a laugh but to complain like it's your right to keep the mat because you had to wait before, that just sets my temper aflame. Plus, the fact that these younger guys were talking back to a father who was trying to get his kids a mat to slide on didn't help my temper either. As a young child we were thought to respect our elders. 
"What did you say?", I bellowed. I already knew what they said. They started to speak and I said at a higher than normal volume, "I don't care if you had to wait ten minutes for your tubes! Haven't you ever read the Book of Mormon where King Benjamin said to treat everybody fair!" Always grasping for something familiar in this teaching moment, I took a highly educated assumption that they were Mormon. Well what do you know, one of the young men's says the most aggravating words one can say to me when I'm angry, "calm down."
I think I've written about my father's angry eyes but just in case I haven't, my dad had one key indicator that something you may have done has gotten you into the no turn back zone of his ire, his eyes. If any cartoon could describe it, it would be the one where the pupils of the angry eyes become a nuclear explosion! As my brother attests to, I had the highest rate of talking back to my father of all my siblings. When I got in the ire zone, that was when I knew I was getting the belt, a broom, or anything he could get his hands on. Upon retrospect, that was partially where I learned respect but also I learned something bad. I learned, subconsciously, respect by physical or vocal force was normal procedure. 
Combine this force with an irritation with unfairness and you get me before the accident. After the accident, I became more likely to tell people about my feelings. Unfortunately for a while it was always in a more aggressive and hostile voice. I've been working with my psychologist on being more assertive than aggressive but in this occasion I was more aggressive.
In a Stone Cold Steve Austin voice, I said, "WHAT!"
He replies, "Ok, Ok. Calm down." I told him, as I walked within striking distance, which happens to be very, very close when I'm not wearing my prosthetics, "I'm not going to calm down. You want me to elbow you in your head?" Of course you might be able to guess what he said, "Calm down." Luckily, I was able to regain control of my anger and get my mat and walk away.
While in the line with my niblings, I had feelings of regret and sorrow for the explosion of anger. I also feel shame for being a bad example for my niblings. One thing I've learned to do though, is let that sorrow help me to think about and see what I can do better in that situation. Then I've learned not to let that sorrow drag me into depression. So while in line I mentioned to one of the passing lifeguards that they definitely should have a lifeguard watching the line making sure that everybody shared their mats. He didn't do anything about it. At that point I just could either let it go or go talk to the managers. I decided to let it go and like most things when I let it go people around me, this time my niblings, let it go.
Now, my family and I had to get to the business of rides. I had gone to the water park in 2014 but just rode all the rides without actually looking at the rules. A year later and a little more conscious of the "rules" against amputees, I began to read the "rules." Many of the rules state if you are a using a prosthetic device, you will not be allowed on the ride. I feel bad for those using prosthetic legs because they are often not allowed on many rides because if they took off their prosthetics they would have to hop up stairs on one leg. At the same time I'm mindful that a lot of people working at these places, aren't educated or familiar with amputees and might be confused on the difference between no prosthetics allowed on the ride and no amputees on the ride. Most amusement parks I have to be ready to get to the front of a line and not be allowed on the ride or have an explanation of the difference between using a prosthetic device and just being an amputee. After all the anxiousness of thinking about what to say if questioned or stopped and sent back, I was let on the Cave-In ride no questions asked.
The next ride we decided to try was the Vortex, a ride some people call the toilet bowl. We trade in our single tubes for a triple tube and head over. While walking over to the ride, I explain to my niblings that they may not let me on the ride. We jump in line to the ride, the lifeguard approaches us. My heart rate rises. He says, "You can't ride the Vortex with a triple." With I sigh with relief, I suggest we go on the ride next to the Vortex, the Boomerang. They agree.
Again waiting in a long line to get turned back can be disappointing but the alternate, warning management that you are an amputee that is coming to the park, can create problems too. Calling ahead, can get you disqualified for most rides before you even start. The infamous rule is three points of contact. I have had the best success rates of getting on rides has been the element of surprise. I know a lot of amputees who aren't allowed on rides but in my opinion this shouldn't be a question of how to restrict adults from rides. It should be to find out ways to help amputee adults ride safely. Also, I wouldn't mind signing a waiver to ride rides that I deem safe. The only exception would be if I was going to hurt someone.
My niblings and I make it to the front of the line and we decide I should be on the front of the triple tube because I'm the heaviest. The attendent let us ride, no questions asked. My niblings probably didn't know how steep that ride was going to be. At the end of the day, my niece said that was her favorite ride.
Now we take our triple tube and head to the ride called Shotgun Falls. As we approach the front of the line, I start reading the rules. A couple of them catch my attention. One falls under, "The following persons may not ride this ride:
*Guests whose health or physical condition could be affected by this ride
*Guests with braces, casts, or prosthetic limbs
Add that to the rule, "Hold onto the handles at all times." I was really concerned about this ride. To my surprise, no questions were asked and the lady even said have a good ride.
In our triple tube, we descended quickly. At the bottom of the ride is a long runway with deeper water to slow down the tube. Now here's where that rule of holding on to the handle all times comes into play. A short lesson in physics should demonstrate what happens next. Newton's first law of motion says, "An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force." 
During the ride, the tube and the riders are the objects in motion. The water at the bottom Provides the  unbalanced force, in this case friction. I was not holding onto the tube so I was disconnected from the mass that was being acted upon. While the tube stopped underneath me, my mass continued to be an object in motion. I went forward about two feet, while the forces that slowed me down were gravity and then friction. 
It would have been more dangerous if I was on the back because I would have smacked into my niblings. At the same time, it was a blast. I was laughing and telling and listening to stories with my niblings the whole way to the tube exchange. 
We exchanged our triple tube for one double tube for the niblings and a single tube for me. The Vortex, had a surprise waiting for us in the line and his name was Joseph. Now Joseph was the little boy just ahead of us in line. He was very talkative to the red-headed girl he was with, who I assume was a relative. I initiated a conversation with him by asking, "You ready for the ride?" Joseph began telling me all the intricacies of the ride. He wanted to come out of the Vortex facing the front. 
When he saw my residual limbs with missing hands, our conversation stopped. Joseph went up to the red-headed girl. I could see him point and whisper, "That guy has no hands." At that moment, I changed the subject by pointing at a pigeon, and speaking aloud, "Look that pigeon is gonna poop!" Hahahaha the old change the subject technique, which I have become a master of, worked again. Joseph started yelling at his mom, "Look mom a pigeon!" Then the pigeon flew away.
We began our conversation again when I asked, "Is that your mom?" I found out he was from England but he had lost his accent. I asked him to check my British accent if it's correct. As I attempted to a British accent, it kept coming out Australian. He advised me that I should have his mom check my British impersonation. The wait on the line went by fast during our time consuming conversation. 
Soon, Joseph was loading up on his tube for the ride but before he left, he said, "OK Sam I'm going to wait for you down at the bottom." A good feeling came over me. My niblings went first. Sure enough, Joseph was down there waiting for me to come out the Vortex. He was very impressed that I came out forward, LOL. We exchanged pleasantries and I gave him my version of the high-five, the high elbow bash.
That was the end of our rides. My sister didn't want to stay long. We did hit the wave pool one more time and try out my waterproof Galaxy S5. We weren't able to operate the camera under water but here are some shots of us goofing off.
I hope that by reading this blog, people can learn about some struggles an amputee may go through at an amusement park. Also, I hope my niblings learned a little bit of good things from me. I hope they may have learned that although I lost control of my anger, it's good to stand up for fairness. It would also be great if they have learned to make new friends or at least be cordial to people. Another thing they might benefit from is learning to forgive yourself after making a mistake. Most of all I hope they learned to smile and have fun in any situation!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Almost On Top of the World: Part 6 of When Limbs Break a Tree Calls onIt's Roots for Strength

My life had made a full 180 degree turn. In December 2007 I was this sniveling mess of a man, begging for the attention of a cheating wife, who couldn't afford to go anywhere or do anything. Including my PT Cruiser, that I had bought to try and win the woman back, I had rallied up a debt of near $80,000. My credit cards  were all maxed out just trying to win her love and I was fighting for a relationship that the other party had abandoned several months ago. 

Three years later, I had finally come out of that funk. I was going places that I had always dreamed of like New York City,
San Diego
and to top it off my college team, the Utah State University Aggies, had beaten our big brother rivals, Brigham Young University, in football.
The woman I had married was now an ex-wife. It had finally occured to me that I wasn't in love with her, just who I thought she was. That meant I could allow myself to move on.

Excluding the scary experience I had had at work, (see part 5 of when a trees limb breaks it calls on its roots for strength) everything in my life was now in order. The hunt for my "REAL" eternal partner in crime (an expression for wife not a confession of crime plans)  was in full swing and I was searching high and low. This weekend my hunt would take me to Atlanta, Georgia.

Ecclesiastes or, the Preacher 
1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: 
2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; 
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 
5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 
6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 
7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 
8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

This scripture comes to mind when I think about a humans ability to compartmentalize their lives. Compartmentalizing my feelings was something I learned to do at an early age. When I was a child, there were a lot of times when I would get spanked and cry and then in the next moment I was expected to be over it. In fact sometimes my dad would ask, in the middle of a beating, the rhetorical question because of how loud we were crying, "Do you want to cry?" My gut reaction was, "Yes, yes in fact I do want to cry." Luckily I didn't go with my gut but rather with my mind reading skills which told me, "He's asking that question because if I don't stop crying then he's going to give me a reason to cry."

As a youth I compartmentalized nearly everything with the corporal encouragement of my dad. If it was time to be sleeping, I had better be sleeping or else. I even remember getting spanked for not being asleep when I actually was sleeping. It was the strangest thing to wake up to a sore bottom with only having remembered a faint dream about getting spanked.

When it was time to have fun, I really had fun like there was no tomorrow. When it was time to play football, I did it like nothing else mattered on the planet. If I was time to play basketball, everything was forgotten except basketball.

I compartmentalized the scary incident that happened on Thursday December 9, 2010 and went into dating mode. Dating mode, to me, is where I get to know someone enough to see whether I like them enough to get into a serious exclusive relationship. I consider a date to be any activity where I'm getting to know somebody. It's not a difficult task to get into dating mode for me. However, getting into that serious exclusive stage is extremely difficult and more rare than a three-toed Pygmy sloth. In my lifetime, I can only say I have been in three relationships. There are a few reasons for this futility and while telling the story of meeting this young woman, who I will call Susan in this blog for anonymity, I will tell you what I have found out about myself.

That Friday, December 10, 2013, we set two light poles, nothing extremely dangerous. By one 'o clock I was driving to Denver International Airport. On a funny side note, by 1:30 pm I was getting a speeding ticket.

As a child, one memory stands out that represents some of the reason why I'm timid when it comes to the opposite sex. (I'm laughing out loud just thinking about it) The neighbor across the street had a trampoline and also a pretty female about my age lived there as well. She would jump on the trampoline often. Her blonde her would bounce in rhythm with each leap she would make. A couple of times she waved at me and smiled. Often, I would kneel with my chin on the window sill, watching her jump on the trampoline.

One day, I was gawking at this neighbor girl and my dad walked in and said jokingly, "What you staring at?  You in love with the girl?" You could insert a sound here of a needle on a record being pushed sideways to explain what just happened. I was busted and ashamed. Later on I remember him mocking me by repeating several times in a short tune, "Samoana is in love," and all of my siblings joining in on the tune.

I know he was joking now but at the time, I was embarrassed. It's not wholly his fault, I was shy all through high school and junior high school. It was a socially awkward time for me, in which when I look back in my journals I can see I was super depressed. In fact the whole idea of putting my lips against someone else's lips grossed me out. People are super surprised when I tell them I never went to prom or any school dances for that matter.

I met Susan on an Internet dating site for Latter Day Saint, or "Mormon", people. I found her pictures to be very cute. We moved our relationship from the dating website to the social media world of Facebook. Eventually I called her. My sense of humor involves a lot of "talking trash" and she was able to hang with me in that arena. I used to call her phone and do my voice impersonations on her voicemail. She had this lisp that and southern accent that I found very attractive. Until this particular weekend in December of 2010, we had never met.

She picked me up from the airport in a GMC Jimmy, which see affectionately called "Jimmy." We had many conversations about our cars, playing as though they had names and personalities. Often I would talk smack about Jimmy over the phone to Susan, just to see if I could get her wound up.

I had devised this whole scheme about meeting Susan for the reason that I had wanted to play her in Monopoly. Really I wanted to get to know her better. I had expected her to read between the lines because a person doesn't fly all the way across the country to play Monopoly, unless it's like the monopoly championship. All of this was a ploy that I had used, finding a 'MacGuffin' if you will, so that I can actually get to some other goal. (a Macguffin was a word Alfred Hitchcock used to describe a plot device or goal that a protagonist uses but it turns out to be unimportant) I used a lot of MacGuffins to avoid being clear and concise and having to say, "I want to get to know you," because I still feel sort of embarrassed to just come out and say what ever it is that I'm feeing towards a girl.

Also, when in need of something to say just resort to the MacGuffin. We didn't have a Monopoly board so I brought it up that we needed one. While on our way, we got pulled over. Jimmy got impounded and we were standing out on the curb, waiting for a ride from one of Susan's relatives.

I know she was very embarrassed about the whole thing. One of my favorite jokes was calling later and asking if Jimmy was on parole yet.

Her relative came and we went to eat at an IHOP or Waffle House, I forget. They dropped me off at my hotel and more fun would ensue the following morning.

Atlanta has a few things to offer, among them is the World of Coke and the largest aquarium in the United States. That's what we did.


You may be asking, "How in the world did Monopoly become the MacGuffin?" Well if you are asking that, I'll explain it. She also professsed to me to be "the Champ" of Monopoly.  I told her how my dad and siblings used to always play Monopoly. I didn't tell her that I always used to come in third but I did challenge her to a game. Throughout all our phone conversations I never said much about how good I was at Monopoly I just let her talk all the crap about it. She claimed she was going to beat me so bad and talked all sorts of trash. Realistically, I didn't think I was going to beat her but I got her to tell me one of her tactics on winning Monopoly and that was that she never did trades.

Saturday night December 11, 2010 this highly anticipated Monopoly game took place. Just like my life at that moment, most things went my way. I got a couple of monopolies and soon she realized she wanted a trade. At that moment, I told her that I was going to use her own strategy on her and not give her any trade at all. 

I had won but life, just like the game of Monopoly, doesn't always go your way. In the game of life, I was on a roll. I had rid myself of $80,000 in debt. I was enjoying getting to know a woman who had potential to be my eternal companion. I was visiting places I had always dreamed of. Little did I know that in two days I would be getting every bad card you could find in the chance pile and mortgaging all my properties. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

DEEEEEE-STRUCTION : Part 7 When a Tree Loses It's Limbs It Calls onIt'sRoots for Strength

My foreman, Larry, had a saying for when things went wrong, "Deeeeee-strucion!" It sounded something like this : . The first time I heard about it they, Larry and our lineman, were talking about a shed the lineman had destroyed. He had been digging next to this shed to put in underground power lines. If you have ever ran a backhoe, you know that some controls can be very sensitive. The lineman had pushed the lever to swing the bucket-arm. "SMAAAAASHHHHH!!!" The bucket, In a tight alley, had swung right into the wall of a shed. I forget what the lineman's name is but i'll call him Jed, short for Jedi. (lol) Jed apologized to Larry. Larry sort of screamed, "DEEEESTRUCION!" in the voice of a monster truck radio advertisement. I don't know if he got it from that or from some old eighties hair band group but whenever things got smashed up or broken either Jed or Larry would exclaim, "DEEEEEESTRUCTION!!"

I have some pictures of what the official Sturgeon, the subcontractor company I was working for, incident report. I hope they aid in the storytelling.

December 13th, 2010 will live on for the rest of my life as a day of, "DEEEEEEESTRUCTION." There is a social worker who has told me that trauma memories are stored at a cellular level, meaning your cells remember traumatic experiences and recall them especially on anniversaries of the event. A lot of things she says, I take as superstition, including this until December 13th, 2014. It was a normal anniversary date for my accident. I spent it teaching snowboarding to my nephew, Ephraim. Not wanting people's pity, I didn't announce it on facebook or tell anybody. All day, I kept getting an additional phantom pain that I don't normally have. It felt like electrical pulsating about two times an hour. So maybe there is something to this cellular memory. ( ) Sorry for doubting you Ann (Social Worker). I'll give you that one but I'm still pessimistic about the tap therapy (lol).

I woke up twice that day in 2010. The first time, I did my normal routine. My alarm went off and I dressed myself for weather in the teens. I wore an under-layer of thermals, a hoodie, a pair of Carhartt jeans, some Carhartt heat insulated coveralls, a coat and some warm Bogs brand boots. I warmed up the car and made the short 5 minute drive to the yard, where we kept our trucks and materials. The gate to the yard had a padlock that I opened nearly every day, as I did my duty to warm up the trucks and fill out the truck inspection sheets.

 After the scary work of moving a corner pole phase, as talked about in the blog entry , I was looking forward to have the other apprentice come back and return to a three man crew. Mitch, the other apprentice, drove into the yard with his blue dodge Ram dually with the diesel engine. I greeted him with a huge smile and asked if he had passed his journeyman's test. He replied no and proceeded to tell me what they failed him on.

We warmed up our trucks and as was custom, drove them to our normal breakfast spot, The Moose.
I ordered my usual breakfast, French toast combo. As Mitch and I ate breakfast, I told him about my scary story of moving a corner pole in the bucket by myself. He seemed more concerned about his journeyman's test he had just failed. I filled out the safety report and Mitch and I signed it. This is the first discrepancy I have from the official safety report. We never made te safety report up at the show up. It was always at breakfast.

Larry didn't eat breakfast with us. A lot of days it was just me and Mitch eating breakfast and filling out the safety report. On those days, we would meet Larry outside the restaurant and he would sign the safety report there. That day was no different except, I believe, Larry asked about Mitch's test. We were all hoping that Mitch would have passed that test so we could have two journeymen on our crew. 

Everything else, continued to go according to normal. We installed a new pole a few feet from the pole we were going to transfer the wire from.  Until about 11:00 am, Mitch and I were up about 30 feet in the air and he recieved a message on the phone that said he needed to be in Salt Lake for a meeting before the board concerning his failed journeyman's test. He decided he needed to leave early that same day to get there on time. 

Here I was working as a two-man crew on 14,400 volts. We had set the pole, before the other apprentice left. Now I was to move the primary wire to the new pole. My foreman would help by using another bucket truck to lift the wire as I guided and tied it in to the insulator. 

The original report says my foreman was in the air with me. 
Later on the report would be amended to say: 

The next step was for me to cover it with rubber hoses and a blanket, that way if any incidental contact were to occur it might have a chance in protecting me. Once that was done, I felt a relief. I felt safe. The rest of the work could be done at a safe distance. 

After lunch we put a new transformer on the pole 

and I descended for some parts. 

I ascended in the bucket.

It was cold and rubber gloves made my hands even colder. I assumed the situation was safe because of my rubber cover and I felt like my minimum approach distances, the distances recommended by OSHA to be safe to work at near high voltages, would not be breached. Before getting to my working position, I called down to my foreman, "Can I take off my rubber gloves?" An answer in the affirmative caused me to rejoice. Class 2 gloves were difficult and stiff to work with, especially in the cold.

 I cut one secondary supply service, wires at the voltage used by the customer, into the transformer with no problem. We had jumpered these light pole services, with long jumpers, to supply the street lights with power the Friday before. 
I remember being a little nervous about how to cut the wire while holding both sides of the wire. Then I remember looking down to throw the scrap piece on the ground. My foreman was cleaning all the scraps below the pole so I didn't want to trow it on his head. I looked over my shoulder to the truck, thinking I could throw it near the bed so he wouldn't have to carry it far. That was all I remembered from inside the bucket.....

I believe if it was in fact a "fishing rod movement," it was because one end of the scrap piece got caught up on the cable below. I think I yanked on it and the wire came springing up after coming free. If that is the case, it was a dumb move to thrash. There was probably a sense of complacency and a feeling of being safe because of the cover. In no circumstance could I see myself doing a "fishing rod movement!" l may be dumb but I'm not that dumb....
The report talks a bit about the time where I was unconscious: 

My memory kicked back in, I barely opened my eyes. I thought everything that had happened before had been a dream. I tried to get up to get ready for work again. My arms wouldn't move.  I realized I was strapped on a stretcher being carried. Then I could hear a chopper. I asked, "Where am I?" A man's voice responded by asking me my name and address. I began to respond, "Samoana Matagi." He asked me again and pain started to permeate from my hands. I screamed, half irritated by being asked the same question, "SAMOANA MATAGI!" Then I started moaning and screaming. A man's voice kept asking me questions. I moaned, "Why are my hands burning?" and screamed till blackness.....

I have always thought that we should have had a four man crew. In my opinion, when an accident happens, there are a lot of people responsible. When the office noticed the journeyman on our crew had quit, they could have sent a journeyman to keep the crew at four. The foreman could have always  called the office to request a lineman from the union hall. Of all the people responsible, the one I had the most control over was me. 
I failed to stand up for my own safety. There were so many ways I could have avoided the accident. I could have worked with gloves on. I could have not held the neutral while throwing the scrap piece. It's good to learn from your mistakes but not good to dwell on them. Accidents happen and hindsight is 20/20.
 There was one expression that could describe the whole incident; DEEEEEEEEE-SRTRUCTION! ( My life was destroyed physically, mentally, and even spiritually. I was 15 inches from not losing my hands at all. Electricity travels at the speed of light. It took the electricity, 14,400 volts, milliseconds to destroy my hands. The wires that caused the burns barely glanced.
I was also a few chest compressions away from losing my life. Thankfully, Larry saved my life. The chances of the wire not hitting a six foot long protective rubber sleeve are so slim, add that to the chances of me surviving, and the chances that it would have happened to two brothers, it all makes me want to believe in destiny. I believe part of my destiny has been to steal back life, figuratively, a bandit with no hands taking back life that was taken from him.