It began to happen around this time of the year. I was working at a bookstore in Colorado – had been since the summer. Up till this point in the fall, there had been little incident. As the climate went from “very dry” to “cold and exceedingly dry”, I became one of the many unfortunate victims of this terrible scourge.
Sometimes I would require multiple band-aids on my hands at once. Handling all those books, each one filled with paper, it would happen at least twice a week. Paper-cuts were a common complaint among my co-workers, and there was little we could do. It was far too warm inside to wear gloves, and besides, it would have been much more difficult to shelve the books.
I am constantly amazed at how much a small paper-cut bleeds. It will hurt for a split second, then stop. I’ll look down at my hand and watch the blood slowly rise. If I don’t wash the cut (with cold water, making my hands even drier), it will continue to bleed all over the brand-new books. Of course the corporate bookstore in which we worked did not see fit to supply its employees with bandages, so I’d have to make do with paper towels until I could get a band-aid at home. It looked silly, me holding a paper towel over my hand as though it had been ripped off in a farm machine accident, when in fact I was suffering the lowliest cut of all.
My best response was prevention. I bought a big container of hand lotion and kept my hands as moisturized as I could. That, along with the near-constant hand washing I did (surprise! I’m a hypochondriac), kept me going through the dry Colorado winter.
Much as I love to read real physical books, and find it so much easier than turning on a computer, I will embrace the device that allows us to read without paper. For, only until we can remove all the extraneous paper from our lives, we will never be rid of that horrible curse known as the paper-cut.