My boss has a saying, “No good deed goes unpunished.” I doubt he’s the first to have noticed how doing a good turn for others often has unintended consequences. The first time I heard the expression, it was uttered by a coworker who was quoting our boss. In recent weeks, I’ve twice been reminded of the truth of the expression.
The second occurrence came about two weeks before Christmas. I had purchased several country hams, as is my custom, for the purpose of slicing them at home and distributing packages of sliced country ham to various friends during the Season of Giving. I was removing the bone from ham number four when I deviated from the norm.
Normally, the first step in boning a ham is the removal of the aitchbone. Next the hard, dry, cured skin is removed, which makes the removal of the shank or hock less difficult. The final extraction is the leg bone or femur. Once all the bones are removed, I chill the meat in a freezer for several hours prior to slicing it.
Instead of removing all the bones from the portion to be sliced, I opted to strip the meat from the hock. A small piece of skin was still on the hock and was something I felt should be sliced off before separating the tibia and fibula. I placed the boning knife near the skin and reached with my left hand to hold the hock while I removed the skin. In gripping the greasy hock, the middle finger of my left hand touched the tip of the knife.
Lightning reflexes are good only if properly applied. As soon as I felt the prick of the tip of the blade of the knife I jerked my hand. Unfortunately, the motion was toward me rather than away from me. The tip of the knife laid open a deep three-fourths inch gash in the tip of my finger.
Having once been a meat cutter by trade, I had ample opportunities to nick myself, though only once were stitches required. Folks don’t understand how a meat man might find the sight of blood disquieting, but I typically explain it is warm blood that bothers me, more especially so when it’s my blood.
I phoned my wife and asked her to come home and help access the need for stitches. She agreed sutures were needed and drove me to the ER of the local hospital, where I received five stitches and more than a little sympathy for having cut myself while engaged in an act of kindness on a mission to spread a little holiday cheer.
Truly, “No good deed goes unpunished,” though it's fair to say some are punished more severely than others.