Thursday, January 5, 2012

Baking Injuries / Deaths

"Mr. Klecko, I have been reading some of your earlier blog posts and read a couple of stories where you talk about injuries, and even deaths. Are you serious. Did you ever get hurt?"

T.S. / United Kingdom

T.S.,the only thing I like better than people reading my current musings is when I find out that people are digging through the L.A.B. archives.

It makes my former suffering seem validated LOL.

But yeah, I have seen some terrible things in my life, however I have been fortunate enough to have escape injury while on the job.

However, there was that summer when I ran the ovens with a broken foot.

I went 12 days before getting a cast on it.

When I went in and out of the swampy proof box, I had to duck tape a Hefty Lawn bag over my foot and up past my knee.

Needless to say, my foot didn't heal right, And I ended up having extreme foot pain for 1 1/2 years.

Oh yeah.....I think I blogged about my hernia too. Did you know that bakers have a higher percentage of hernias than construction workers?

That's a lead pipe fact kid.

But the one incident that stands out in my mind took place some 25 years ago.

I was working as a 3rd shift oven man. I did noting-nothing-nothing other than load and unload entire jumbo ovens with 4 straps of 2# pan loaves.

4 slots per pan is 8#'s of bread, plus the pan is around 6#'s

So each "unit" is 14#'s, and you have 10 units per shelf (140#'s) and 5 shelves per oven load (700#s)

So basically each oven load is 1400#'s. 700 in, and 700 out.

You'd have about 2 loads per hour, and work 10-12 hour shifts, so at 10 hours, that would be 14 000#'s.......or 7 tons of lifting.

Do I need to mention we were lifting hot-hot items and were always in a hurry?

So I must have been 23ish and one day I looked down at my thumb and I noticed I had a big wart on my left thumb.

If my hand was palm down, and you looked from overhead, that wart was on the right side of my thumb, or the outside of my hand.

The wart was gross, so I went and bought a little jar of that Compound W.

The only thing grosser than a wart, is a wart with Compound W on it because it would burn the wart's exterior and actually kinda smoke.

It started to freak me out.

I wore a glove on my hand, it was made of leather and this made my hand wet, white and mush like.

But I swear to Caesar...that wart was like a cockroach.

It simply wouldn't die.

But every single time I jerked my wrists, to snap those 4 loaves out of each pan, the inside loaf would press against the glove, which pressed against the wart.

Sweet Mother of Warsaw it hurt.

On several occasions it burst open and blood squirted out.

It freaked me out, but it freaked Sue McGleno out even more.

I worked all the time in those days, but during my limited leisure time, I found myself playing with the wart unintentionally.

This is when Sue McGleno put her foot down.

I was ordered to go to a doctor, but I really didn't want to do this because I had no insurance or money.

But sometimes you just have to "Cowboy Up".

So Klecko goes to the Doc, and she put this metal tube on the wart and told me it was going to super freeze my wart.

It did, and within a few days, or a week the thing fell off.

For a couple weeks, but Holy Moses that wart was pissed. It came back with a vengeance, and I kid you that thing was bigger than a plump pea.

When I walked down the street, people turned their heads, they recoiled in fear, like I was John Merrick or something.

So now Sue McGleno informs me that I have to return to the doctor.

Klecko explained that we didn't have money, literally......our checking account was under $100's.

I'll never forget, Sue McGleno was eating Apple Jacks and staring at my deformity across the table.

"You really need to figure something out. I'm just not going to let you touch me until that get's fixed."

"What if I wear my oven glove?" I asked, but she informed me I was getting creepier by the moment.

So Klecko sits back in his chair and tells her flat out.....

"I'm off tomorrow, I am going to remove the wart myself."

Sue McGleno returned "That Look" and didn't even desire an explanation, so I didn't give one.

The following morning I got home around 10 or 11 a.m. and the first thing I did was grab a bottle of whiskey.

Nobody was home, so I simply sat at the table, smoked cigs and got 3 layers deeper than buzzed.

I stared at that stupid wart and I'm not kidding ya, it appeared to be growing by the minute.

So the first thing I tried was to drain the fluid, hoping that it would remove the pressure and eventually pain.

I took one of "SM's"sewing needles, placed it into the flame of a Bic liter to sterilize it, and started poking hurt each time I pricked it, but no liquid ooze came out.

The well was dry.

Now I was scared.

It was at this point that I grabbed a toe nail clipper, and have you ever noticed how it has that hook thing that looks like a bottle opener...with a sharp point on the end of that.

Well after taking a couple more shots of liquid courage, I decided that - that thingy was a wart remover.

LOL,I sunk the point in, pulled back.....and ladies, I'll bet it was "having babies" painful.

I S-c-r-e-a-m-e-d out loud, and then I tugged back a little more.

Honest to Molly......I heard the roots snapping, was the sickest sound.

But I had only pulled up about 1/4 of the whole deal.

I knew that I could endure much more of the pain, no kidding.

So then I took one more shot (I was now officially drunk) buried the hook about 1 1/2"'s deep, called out to my savior and thrust back in a single motion.

The next thing I knew........ I woke up. For the first time (the only time as a matter of fact) I passed out from pain, and that's coming from a guy that's broken over a dozen bones.

So as I came to.....I realized what had happened. I looked at my thumb and there was a crater like you wouldn't believe.

Then I noticed that the wart shot across the table.

I picked it up and looked at it like I was in science class.

It looked like an octopus.

The wart was hard but fleshy and had a series of long tentacle root things hanging from it.

When Sue McGleno came home and I showed her the scar....she wasn't impressed. In fact, I think I got the silent treatment for a couple of days.

But truth be told.......The crater filled back in, and the wart never came back, but if I had to do it again.....

I just don't know if I would still have the nerve.

Isn't it amazing T.S. that a minor blemish, the size of a pea, could keep a guy off balance for so long?


  1. I didn't know how icky warts could be until I grew some (gruesome).

    I had a wart on the heel of my mind when I was young -- I bit it off. Hurt so much I sounded like a dog hit by a car.

    Great story!

  2. That sounds like a horror movie. I like it! I had a wart on my knee when I was 6 or 7. I bit it off. LOL

  3. LOL @ Fay....biting trumps implements any day! Way to go................

  4. Sue McGleno deserves an award for putting up with you for this long - what would your life be like if you did not have her. You would still have that wart and it probably would have taken over your whole body and a movie would be made about you called, "The Octopus Baker". I know even if you were an octopus - you still would be a baker - just able to do at least 400% more baking with all those extra tentacles.

  5. LOL @ Sellman,

    This was one of the few times Klecko chose not to take the nurses advice....funny how whiskey can give a guy false courage......

  6. You are absolutely crazy! LOL!!!!! I had a wart on my knee when I was younger, my mom said we could make it go away if we tied a string around it then bury the string under the eves of the house. It went away, maybe next time call my mom! LOL!!