Don’t Pick On Me

It was a beautiful south Texas Saturday afternoon. A number of the men FROM the church had been fishing and their luck was very good. They were busy frying fish and french fried potatoes in peanut oil on propane cookers under nearby live oak trees.

We were setting up the sound system, amps, drums, keyboard, and mics to provide music for an afternoon of gospel singing after everyone was well fed. Our “stage” was a flat bed trailer provided by one of the nearby ranches. It was pulled up in the shade of some large live oak trees.

We had cleaned the trailer up real nice, set up the equipment and turned on the electrical power to do the “essential” sound CHECK of the equipment. Our lead guitar man stepped up to his mic to do a sound check. He wasn’t satisfied with his mic position. He had his guitar on a strap hanging around his neck. He reached with both hands to change the position of his mic.

That’s when it happened. He turned first pale and then several shades of blue. At first we did not know what was going on; then it became obvious he was choking. We then realized what had happened. Quickly, utilizing the “Heimlich maneuver,” the obstruction in his throat was expelled and in a couple of minutes his normal breathing was restored.

He had done what I myself have done many times and have seen even professionals do. He had put his guitar pick in his mouth between his teeth to free up both hands to make the mic adjustment, and apparently took a breath pulling on the mic stand and sucked the guitar pick down his throat, where it lodged across his wind pipe. The guitar pick was triangular in shape and about the size of a quarter. It did an effective job of cutting off his air supply. Without assistance, he could not get the pick dislodged.

Fortunately for him, quick action by one of the guys on “stage” got the pick expelled. Since observing that experience, I try to remember to never put a guitar pick or any other foreign object in my mouth while setting up equipment – because next time we might not be so lucky.