Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Ouch: That's Gonna Leave a Mark...

I am almost embarrassed to tell this story – not because I did anything humiliating or because of the fact that I was somewhat responsible for the event – but mostly because I would hate for people to think that I enjoy laughing at the expense of others.  I’m not saying that I don’t occasionally laugh at the expense of others; I’m just saying that I’d prefer that not be the specific quality you recognize me by. 

As if San Antonio is not cold enough, I spent Monday and Tuesday up around Baltimore where I had meetings in a building I had not been to before.  In the area, it had been snowy and in fact, a light sleet was coming down, but the roads were clear and generally, driving was not an issue.  

I was traveling with two colleagues and riding in the front passenger seat when we pulled into a parking lot.  There was a gentleman walking from his car towards the building and the driver of our rental suggested I ask the guy if he could point us to the building we were looking for.  We pulled up about twenty-five feet from the man who had his back to us when I lowered the window and politely yelled, “Excuse me.

I do not have a harsh voice or even what you would consider a strong voice.  I don’t necessarily yell and I don’t think that there was anything to be startled about in my tone.  The area we were in was not a high crime area as far as I know, so it wouldn’t seem unreasonable to ask for someone’s assistance from a rental car, nor should a pedestrian fear offering any sort of assistance.  No, I have no reason to believe that it was anything more than ice and timing that caused this event.  The poor gentleman I politely called out to Tuesday morning turned his head abruptly in my direction and simultaneously lost his footing causing his feet to take flight out from under himself and, in Wyle E. Coyote fashion, ran in mid air for what seemed like several seconds before unceremoniously landing flat on his backside.

This alone may not have been so bad, after all, who among us has not experienced a bad morning where we lose coolness points by tripping in front of total strangers?  No, what made it bad was when our car load of onlookers suddenly sung in unison that “Oooohhhhhhhh” sound that you might expect from a sports bar audience watching replays of knock-out punch caused several other people walking, presumably co-workers of the falling pedestrian, to look back and see the man laying on the hard asphalt.  Now that is embarrassing.

Of course, I didn’t jump out of the car to go assist the poor guy; I mean, besides being cold, it was clearly slippery and dangerous out there.  But as the man picked himself up off the ground, I did offer a slightly subdued “sorry ‘bout that,” before asking if he knew where the particular building was.  The man was clearly startled.  He looked at us for a second, and then just said, “I have no idea.”  I think he was probably in shock and some pain but had no intention of sharing his fractured hip or bruised ego with any of us.  And once again, all I could do was offer a quick, “are you okay?” but being late for a meeting in a building we couldn’t find, we drove on.  

As we drove past the group of guys staring at their fallen office mate, I sensed a look of disgust coming from one of them toward our rental vehicle.  It was as if we had violated some universally known snow rule that you never ask for directions from somebody walking on ice.  Hell, who knew there was such a protocol?

As soon as the window was rolled up, the three of us in the car busted out laughing, then it was as if we caught ourselves all at once and started making helpful statements like, “Gee, poor guy.” Or “Wow, I hope he didn’t tear an ACL.”  But of course, our kind statements were followed by more laughter. 

Note to self:  Carry video camera when driving around icy office buildings.  Also, be careful on ice. 


Maureen said...

I can not contain myself when I witness stuff like that. It's a horrible quality about myself that I should really try to work on. One of many, yes, but damn, funny is funny. My ex-husband used to give me a sideache from all of his shenanigans, and he wasn't even particularly clumsy, just really unlucky. Cheap thrills.

Keith Alan K said...

You can't live in the Northeast without taking a public prat-fall or ten. Luckily, most of them go unnoticed--there's ZERO proof that I have ever gone ass over teakettle on an icy sidewalk. Back then the world wasn't infested with cameras and people like us who love to use them, so it's a good thing that I moved back to SA.