Everyone has an idealized version of how they want to present themselves to others. For me, it’s a cross between Sean Connery as James Bond, Johnny Carson and a turtle. Either way, even for a guy like me that prides himself on being funny, it is hardwired into my brain to avoid tripping at all costs - unless it’s on purpose.
The other day, I tripped devastatingly up a short flight of stairs. I was in a large group of people, and walking away after saying my goodbyes. So picture this - I’m in the stereotypical “waving-bye-while-walking-away-pose”, when unexpectedly a flight of stairs shows up.
My first thought: “Oh, jeeze. I almost forgot about these stairs I need to walk up. Better make sure I don’t trip.”
Now, with a first thought like that, you would think that I put myself in position NOT to trip, right? If there is any anti-tripping thought you can have, that one is it. I was aware of tripping potential and I understood what needed to be done to avoid the tripping.
Alright, so here’s what happens next. I trip. But I trip in a very understandable way. The building I was in was constructed in a hilly area, so every so often, there are these little flights of stairs as you enter a portion of the building that’s a little higher than the other. I’d say it’s no more than six short steps.
At any point, I could have simply stopped moving and reassessed my situation. But, would Sean Connery as James Bond do that? Nope.
The steps are shorter than what you’d assume to be step height, so, with my left foot - my leading foot - I completely miss one step and stub my foot on the next step up. Okay, that’s (relatively) normal. What happens next is that you fall forward a little and catch yourself with outstretched arms.
HOWEVER - this is when things took a turn for the worse. In order to fall forward and be able to catch yourself you need:
a) two functioning arms
b) the awareness that you are falling so that you outstretch the aforementioned arms, and,
c) a foot on the ground.
So if you’re tripping with your left foot, you need your right foot on the ground in order to catch yourself from face planting.
Let’s recap. I wasn’t paying attention to where I was walking, so some stairs came up sooner than I thought. I think I’m Sean Connery as James Bond, so I start waltzing up the steps without looking. I trip on my first attempt to land on a step. I start falling forward, expecting to catch myself.
Except, I still haven’t really looked at the steps, so I still don’t know how tall they are. My right foot swings and misses at a lower step, completely missing everything. It sort of reminded me of when I played baseball. I now have no choice but to allow my entire body to land flat on the stairs. And I start sliding down, belly first.
At this point, I’m in pure panic mode. I haven’t had a chance (since I’m Sean Connery as James Bond) to stop and think about what’s happening to me. My mind races with possible explanations for why my entire body is sprawled across steps and sliding down. Sinkhole? Tumor? Bear attack? All of it is possible.
I feebly yell, “Oh my God!” since that’s an acceptable response to learning of either a sinkhole, a tumor or a bear attack.
I land at the bottom of the stairs and roll a little. My Sean Connery as James Bond senses kick in, and I figure I have to try to roll. This doesn’t make sense.
I start saying something else, probably the beginning to The Lord’s Prayer.
Incredibly, I stand up to realize that not one person had realized the catastrophe that had befallen me. So, I walk up the stairs and decide to write this blog post.