A few years ago I was working at a jobsite in Santa Ynez, California. I was doing home-automation/low-voltage installation work at the time for the upper one percent of society. A few days before on an outing to Red Rocks in Coldwater Canyon I’d gone into blackout while hiking and swimming due to my intake of copious amounts of vodka. Somewhere along the hike back I’d taken a header into some jagged rocks, gashing my forehead above the left eye. It was an obvious, ugly sight to behold, but I had to work. I had bills to pay.
The client wasn’t particularly an easy one for any of the contractors (she’d gone through five already), but she and I got along rather well due to my exuberance for her rescue dogs. I was the only one she actually welcomed into her house. She and I had a special bond through the intermediary of animals.
I’d done my best to cover up my shiner and gash-especially in light of the fact that my workplaces were $35 million homes. I was very careful to avoid conversation about my disfigured face. Knowing of my disposition through prior conversations of wanting to rescue dogs myself, without even acknowledging the gaping wound she just quietly remarked to me, “You know, you won’t be able to take care of them if you don’t take care of yourself.”
This profound reminder never fails to tap me on the shoulder when (always afterward) I find myself in a state of self-destruction. Likewise, the scar on my forehead that glares back at me in the mirror will always be there to remind me of this admonition.