Dry Wall Is Heavy Stuff

I was working on a job out in Seattle.  My apprentice partner was of Latin- American descent.  He was a rather strong fellow.  He had just started his apprenticeship and was anxious to learn.  He was a good worker.

We were installing the trim in one building, and the sheet rockers had leaned a large amount of sheet rock against the wall in front of one of the receptacle boxes.  I suggested that I could hold the sheetrock straight up, away from the wall, while he went behind and installed the receptacle.  This would give him real electrical experience.  He obviously didn’t need sheetrock holding experience.

A moment of clear thinking would have allowed me to reconsider.  He was the stronger of us two.  I would take up less room between the sheet rock and the wall.  It was a snap decision that didn’t turn out very well.

While holding the sheet rock upright I became overbalanced.  The sheet rock started falling back toward me.  As I tried desperately to hold it upright, I fell over backward with the sheet rock on top of me.  (We later determined that the sheet rock weighed a ton.)  A number of men came and lifted the sheet rock off of me.

I was able to get up but my feet had been flat on the floor while my legs were turned sideways at the ankle.  It was not a pleasant experience!  I wouldn’t recommend it.  They hauled me off to the hospital.  The doctor kept asking me if I had heard a pop or a snap.  I hadn’t noticed either one.  The X-rays did not show anything broken but the ligaments had been stretched considerably.

I had been staying with my daughter and son-in-law in Seattle, so my wife came over to the coast to pick me up and take me home.  There followed four or five months of hobbling around and physical therapy.

During that time we had very little income.  L&I was very slow to compensate us.  I received an opportunity to inspect wiring for FHA homes.  At the time it seemed like a reasonable solution.  I could hobble around a home and verify wiring, and wait for the compensation for being injured on the job to show up.

I was mistaken.  The fact that I was earning something cut off the very little that L&I was compensating me.  A great number of correspondence letters ensued, with me trying my best to get everything cleared up.  My lawyer said that I just dug the hole deeper every time I wrote a letter.  He eventually got it all corrected.

It took some time before I was able to contact the apprentice who had been working with me and assure him my injury was not his fault.

It was my own mistake.

Besides, dry wall is heavy stuff.