Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What is "Walking the Steel"?

I am scared of nursing school. I am afraid of accidentally stabbing myself with a dirty needle, or falling and knocking over someone's IV stand. I am afraid of killing someone.

"Walking the steel" is a term that comes from the steelworkers who constructed the giant skyscrapers of Manhattan and other major cities. It was an incredibly dangerous job, welding and soldering pieces of steel together, thousands of feet in the air, with nothing but a six-inch wide piece of steel to stand on, and a small safety belt to catch you if you fell. Steel I-beams twenty feet long swung through the air, hoisted by cranes, and would crush anyone who accidentally got in their way, or knock him off the side of the building to his death. New men were a danger to veterans, because they were more likely to have an accident or panic and grab another worker, risking his life. Steelwalkers had to learn to simply ignore the fear, the danger, the height, and to dance along the steel as if it were solid ground.

That is what I need to do as a nurse. I need to learn to ignore the fear and the danger, and to dance along the tip of a hypodermic as if it were a part of my own body. I have to walk the steel. 

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