Sunday, September 16, 2012

Perhaps I should only use elevators, or parachutes

The first time it happened was when I was in 7th grade, if memory serves. It was probably then, because it was at S.Miami Jr. High School. That was before they renamed those institutions of torture "middle school".

My elementary school was all on one floor, the junior high was two story, which meant stairs. One day for no reason at all I fell down the stairs. I wasn't hurt, just puzzled, and, as was my state about 75% of the time back then, embarrassed. It may have happened on other occasions during my tenure in that world of sadistic and perverted educators.

Since then, I have take tumbles in stairways countless times, and almost never is there a good reason for it, like tripping or slipping on ice. Although, in recent years it usually resulted from being too much on the outer edge of the first tread and slipping down to the next one which can set off a chain reaction, cost you your balance and make for a rapid trip down to the next landing.

When I lived in Memphis where my apartment was the second floor of a converted older house, I had to take stairs from my front door up to the rest of the place. It had one landing half way up with a switchback. I tumbled down those stairs multiple times from the top and from the mid point landing. Mostly to no ill effect, but sometimes---OUCH.

I recall, on one occasion, landing head first, and face down at the bottom with my head an inch or two from my front door.

This past weekend I was house and pet sitting for friends who have a three level house with a view of the bay and downtown SD skyline. Due to the nature of the area, in remodeling and enlarging this dwelling they had to stick within very strict zoning parameters which required some unusual design.

There are no switchbacks between floors, and this place has very high ceilings. So, the stairs from the main (middle) level to the lower level are one straight, long, steep shot, with smooth wall on either side. It has a hand rail on one side, attached to the wall.

I was headed downstairs with a handful of clean but wrinkled shirts in the hand on the side by the handrail. So, no hand was on the rail. I thought I'd put the shirts in the dryer with a damp cloth to improve their look. And it did.

The trouble came at the first step down. I was barefooted, and from nowhere some force took my feet and threw them out in front of me. These stairs are of a very nice, beautiful, hardwood construction. My elbows and else can attest to this.

The unique thing was that I was unable to halt the downward momentum until my rude arrival at the lower floor itself. My first thought was, "Holy S&^%!!! Whatever you do, don't break a bone or get knocked out--lest your insurance criminal status be discovered."

My velocity increased as I travelled down. You'd have thought each step would have slowed me as I slammed it. No. B a m b a m b a m turned into bababababababamboom!

My last thought was, "Why didn't you just let go of the shirts and maybe grab the bannister or use your hand as a brake against the wall? Were you thinking if you let go of the shirts they'd spill or break?".

Seriously, I was trying to protect against injury and slow myself down while holding a bunch of wrinkled shirts up out of harm's way, just like a beer drinker would do if he were holding a beer while falling off a roof. I've been there.

None of the bruises of which I'm aware show. Just below that ball and socket deal with the hip joint on the left side is seriously black with a bit of blue. Some less colorful bruises appeared on the side of my thigh, but they pale compared to the major one.

No use looking for booboo sympathy; can't show anyone because it gets into the kind of territory where casual acquaintances rarely venture-- dagnabbit! I must have turned to that side so I could better hold the shirts up so they wouldn't spill, break, or get dirty. I think my left arm was trailing behind hoping for something to grasp.

Seriously, I so wish I had this on video, shot from above, especially, but from the top or bottom of the stairs would do. It would be great.

My first reaction was to get the stuff in the dryer quick before I found out if I was actually hurt. First rule of stairs tumbles is if you arrive conscious, and can get up, do it quick and get out of there.

Often as not you can get away before the injury catches up and makes camp.

No doubt though, you will feel some strained semi-pulled muscles and things that you never use, or always use, or both.

In this country, there are any number of people who would now be wearing a neck brace and only talking to their friends through a lawyer. Is that sick or what? Not their fault. I have a long history of taking the fast way down the stairs.

One of these times the stair tumble is going to mess my life up or end it. So, from now on, I stop, look, hold on to something, and wear a helmet.

Once again, if there were a law and someone to enforce it, I could have been saved from myself. Perhaps I can sue San Diego for not forcing me to hold the handrail and wear protective gear.

What I learned is that it is OK to let go of wrinkled textiles while bouncing down a series of aggressive speed bumps at near terminal velocity. And I must be in better shape than I thought; I survived and am not too sore to move. I was a bit dazed and cloudy just after the journey ended, though.

The Memphis stairs were carpeted which absorbed much of the impact, but I suffered more from the last one or two of those stair dives. I'm either getting better or else I'm losing the sense to feel it as much.

For once, no witnesses to my lapse of poise, and yet I wish I had it on film. It is indeed a strange life, or perhaps a strange view of it.

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Ballistic Mountain, CA, United States
Like spring on a summer's day


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