Updated: May 17, 2021
When I was six years old, I was tall enough to see over the counter-top in our kitchen.
And when I did, I was extremely observant and quick thinking and inquisitive beyond my years.
And at the same time, I was totally naïve and unaware of danger.
I was meandering from the playroom I had made, amongst the random tools and the lawnmower and a treasure trove of junk in an Aladdin’s cave of riches, in the garage through the utility room into the kitchen on the way to the living room - to do what I no longer remember.
I passed the pristine white oven and cooker and became aware for the first time of a strange sight on the horizontal plane of the hob. It was not exactly modern for the era, despite our having moved into the newly built house the year before.
It consisted of four sets of dark coloured cast iron rings. Only at that moment, there were only three dark coloured rings and one orange swirl of metal that I spied out at the edge of my peripheral vision.
Quick as a flash I stopped in my tracks and swivelled right, turning my head and body to face full on the unusual sight. Making sure that I was correct that something wasn’t the way I expected it to be.
And I was right, one of the black rings was orange. What the heck? That can’t be right I thought before immediately reaching out with my fully outstretched arm and hand; putting what turned out to be the tips of my three middle fingers on to the brightly coloured metal to figure out what strange phenomena was occurring.
The reason I know it was the tips of the three middle fingers is because those were the three fingerprints that were missing for the next six weeks until they more or less fully healed from the effects of the searing heat that had ravaged them in an instant.
It took a mere instant for my fingertips to tell my brain that the reason the hob top had taken on a different hue was because it was working perfectly. It was in fact just on and glowing hot rather than being off and cold.
To this day I have no idea why the rings were left on and unattended and I presumed it was the novelty of the new device that an older resident of the house had absentmindedly forgotten to ensure it was switched off.
And you would be forgiven for assuming this was a lesson learned for young Johnny- to take a step back in the moment and figure things out before taking action- but sadly not, as later that same year I nearly blew off a thumb whilst trying to work out why the electrical socket was emitting sparks around the plug of a lamp.
And proving the old adage that these things come in threes, I saw fit to almost lose half of my little finger in a cliché ‘little boy plays with penknife he’s been specifically told not to play with’ incident. The situation was rectified by my mother, who at the time was a nurse, stitching it back on. She made me place the hand on the kitchen worktop and as I screamed and turned away, I ended up facing the cooker and felt it mocking me for once again falling foul to what would turn out to be a life long personality problem.
Unless I know and understand why I am not to do something, I’m just going to go ahead and do it. And usually with detrimental consequences.
In my father’s office, despite him not being a lawyer, he did have a law related cartoon on the wall. It was a simple black and white sketch of a well-dressed attorney sitting behind a large impressive desk facing a dodgy looking character with a facial scar or two.
The caption was ‘Let’s put it this way Mr Fingers- a cheap shyster will get you ten years!’
And I often think of that sentiment in conjunction with my own experiences where no doubt I might have earned the same nickname had things gone differently.
If you do not invest in the right guidance, the right learning, the right strategies in life, before the challenge that is before you, you can end up being much the worse off. Having at least one good source of wisdom to call upon on will lead to better outcomes and there is nothing to fear from another perspective.
You can still put your hand in the fire if you want but at least it won’t be a surprise when you get burned.