By Joe Rector

I’d just finished mowing the tee box and replacing the markers on Hole 7. My foot slipped off the step that raised me back to the seat, and my weight pitched me forward. Not being as young and agile as I used to be, I struggle to twist and turn to keep from falling on the frame of the mower. That proved successful…until right before I hit the ground. The back of my knee landed on a rod that holds grass buckets on the reels. Without any detail, let’s just say that the metal punctured my skin.

Just like that, my mowing season was over. It was no one’s fault; it was an accident. Still, I spent half a day at the emergency room being evaluated and sewn up. That was a week ago. I’m still hobbled and unable to do anything other than sit on my behind and hurt. Luckily, I’ve been covered by workmen’s compensation, which covers all costs associated with this accident. This isn’t my first encounter with workmen’s comp, however.

As a goofy high school student, I worked on a crew with Knoxville City Maintenance. We boys cut weeds, picked up trash and cleared lots all over the city. One morning, we stopped at the Krystal on Broadway for coffee. I stayed in the truck with some of the other boys. We all noticed the gorgeous girl that showed up, but my line of site was blocked. I climbed on the top of the old 1952 Chevrolet pick-up truck for a better look, and after the girl entered Krystal, I jumped back down. I landed on a thick branch that suddenly gave way. I never figured out if the snap I heard was that wood or my ankle. At any rate, I was writhing in pain.

Foxie, our crew leader, drove us to a doctor who dealt with cases for the city. They dumped me there, and after a humiliating, hours-long experience at that office, mother picked me up and took me home. I spent the rest of the summer in a cast, and the only mitigating factor was being paid weekly for the rest of the summer. Once again, workmen’s comp came to the rescue, and I was grateful.

The third experience with compensation came when I was teaching. A student had wandered into trouble during the day. I happened to be at the office when he was escorted to the assistant principal’s office. Eventually, the boy was being walked out of the office and decided to run. The principal took off after him, as well as my brother, who was the band director. I joined in the chase, and we caught the teen. He put up a good fight with three old men, but we eventually restrained him. In the process the principal injured his shoulder, and I hurt my back.

I was sent to the doctor and checked for any serious conditions. A day off from work and physical therapy were recommended. Workmen’s comp covered the situation so that healthcare bills were paid, and I didn’t lose a day of PTO.

I suppose I’ve been at the wrong place at the wrong time too often. Thankfully, the employers with whom I’ve worked have been covered by workmen’s compensation so that “accidents” haven’t become financial burdens. I never have faked any injury for profit and never would take anything more than what was necessary to make me whole. Thanks to those companies and organizations for keeping me safe.