punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

Shop at home Katana accident

I know you've seen this video before, and it's still one of my favorite dark bloopers. Here's how I break it down.

First, anyone who knows anything about blades, knives, swords, or steel would know this guy is full of shit right off the bat. There is no way in hell any decent set of steel blades would be sold for $44.95 for three blades and a stand. I wouldn't even think the stand would be that decent. Hell, if IKEA sold a katana stand, it would cost more (and have a Seuss-like name: "The Jukrapp Sword Stand: $79.99"). Any decent "practice sword" would be made of bamboo or a hardwood. Why? Because they are practice swords not meant to cut or hurt people. That is why they are practice swords, and not actual ones.

So this guy says how sturdy they are, hitting the table like a damn fool who has never handled a sword of such low caliber before, which causes a metal chunk the size of half the sword to break off and stab him in the abdomen somewhere. He goes through several stages of realization here. There's surprise, then pain, anger, and confusion. "Ohhh... that got me good." I suspect that's when he realized the pain was just the beginning, and the ensuing blood flow was rather alarming. I guess when one takes up home shopping announcer as a job, one does not sign a "fatality" waiver.

"Ya'll right?" asks his buddy offstage. Now, having dealt with many a crisis before, I cannot fault the man for asking that. In fact, I guarantee if you have to announce a sudden death of a relative to another relative, their first response is usually, "Really?" or "No!" or "You're kidding!" Later, you can't really say, "Why would you ask if I was kidding? What the fuck kind of response is THAT?" Although from experience, you think of asking this after the 4th or 5th "You're kidding." In this case, the voice asked if he was all right, not because he thought he was, but has a tinge in his voice like he is trying to force the issue with a passive aggressive demeanor.

Next, our salesperson is slinking off camera, bent over behind the display stand, not thinking about how this would be considered a "practice" anything. I am not sure if he's slinking from pain, shame, or to spare us the sight of a gushing flood of life-sustaining body fluid into his Land's End polo.

The best piece of comedy, however, comes from whatever guy rescued his sales presentation. Like a surprise cherry filling to a dark humor chocolate cake, this strange unlikely witness gets sucked into the viewfinder. I guess they didn't have a second announcer or salesperson available. Maybe this happened at 3am when they thought one guy could handle it alone while the others were on break. So here comes a guy who is as awkward on camera as he is at dealing with a sudden medical emergency. I am not sure if he was the cameraman, a director, or some shop assistant. But he has the kind of flat, stunned face of a veteran WoW junkie trying to explain to the cops that he didn't know the girl he planned to meet at the mall over the Internet was under 18.

"Folks, right now..." he starts, and then pauses, while his comrade lies gushing people-juice onto the cheap wood flooring. Perhaps he has a bit of wisdom to impart upon the shocked viewers. Maybe he will calm us by saying the man is stunned but doing okay. The elderly ladies planning on buying this sword set for their adult grandson who said "he likes ninjas" are stunned. They are waiting on the phone with a credit card in hand, and need to know the nice young man will be okay. But after his brief introduction to the masses, his wit and quick thinking run dry and all he can think of is what's going though his mind:


So instead, this goes through his mind, like a cacophony of horror stunting any hope at some smooth, James Bond dialog he desperately craves right now. Thus we get someone who looks like he has Down's syndrome in a K-Mart V-neck.

"... we, ah..." we what? What do we need? "... may need..." dear God man, what do we need? An undertaker and a MOP! Wait, no, he's still moving and groaning! What's the name of those people who help hurt people? Think, Al, THINK! "... ah... emergency surgery..." Yes, I had the words "emergency" and a term for something medical! I am doing good. Wait, I don't mean *I* need it, I mean that GUY needs it... help! Where to send them, WHERE DO I SEND THE EMERGENCY SURGEONS??? "...in the studio." SEND HELP TO GUY ON FLOOR IN STUDIO!

Mother didn't tell him there'd be days like these. No finer words spoken than someone caught in mid orgasm jacking off in front of their computer showing clips of Rainbow Brite. His face, like a deer in headlights or a man just slapped across the face with a huge sloppy wet fish, is adrift. His thoughts are like those of someone who had just run his car off a cliff: knowing that the slow arc downwards to the ground far below is too painful to contemplate. For a brief moment, his brain shuts down in a peaceful blank place. A mental purgatory that is a buffer to the reality of the horror slithering in a growing pool of red off camera like an aborted fetus crying out to its mother.

Sadly, years later, no one will believe Al when he describes this event. "Al, you tell wonderful stories," his drinking buddies will say, slapping him twice in the shoulder to state he meant nothing by that comment, but to reassure Al everyone knows he's full of shit.

I used to work at Chesapeake Knife and Tool. In 1991, we sold katanas. Not nice ones, not like Hatori Hanzo* steel, but $169 blades that quite frankly result in this kind of mishap. My district manager used to love to tell this story from our Baltimore store, and swore it was true, because he was at the store when it happened.

During the Christmas rush, a customer bought one ("He paid cash, and that's the important part," my district manager used to joke). Since it was Christmas, the cashier asked, "shall I wrap this up and hold it in the back so you can complete your shopping?"

"No thanks," the customer said, eying the sword for defects. "I'll use it right here."

And he did.

He ran himself right through, I assume trying to commit what he thought was seppuku according to a book or samurai movie he saw once. The cashier screamed, customers fled the store, and the customer stood there... fell to his knees, and according to the district manager, "looked around to see if something else was going to happen."

When the paramedics arrived, he was still conscious, kneeling, calm, but confused. "I thought I was supposed to be dead or something," he told an EMT. There was not as much blood as one might have thought from such an act. The EMTs clipped the sword off at both ends with some kind of cutters, wrapped him up, strapped him to a gurney, and wheeled him away.

He lived. He somehow missed every major organ in his act of ultimate self-criticism. Later, he sent us a letter of apology stating his girlfriend had just left him, he was being dramatic, was sorry about any damage he might have caused us, and he was being monitored and taken care of by professionals.
* Yes... I am aware that Hatori is a fictional character
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