Monday, October 13, 2008

it's fine if you laugh, I know I'm a klutz

I had a rather impulsive whirl-wind, adventurous weekend which I will tell you all about after I have had more than three hours of sleep and a diet coke to revive me. For now, I will tease you by relaying one tiny aspect of my weekend - the most embarrassing part.

For reasons I will explain later, on Friday afternoon I was at Penn Station with a roller suitcase stuffed full of dirty laundry, an oversized purse with a jacket and scarf that were unnecessary given the near 80 degree temps dangling out the top because the purse was stuffed to the brim with my laptop, a book, a couple of netflix envelopes, some snacks including a fruit and cheese tupperware, a rather large (but almost empty) bag of cashews and the remaining 1/3 of a Vosges chocoalte bar, a ziplock baggy of potentially dangerous under 3 ounces liquids and a neck pillow along with the various odds and ends that normally float around my purse (ipod, cell phone, blackberry, always mysteriously overweight wallet, sunglasses case and regular glasses case, nylon stuff-bag for shopping, moleskin notepad, etc.). It was 4 pm and since Columbus Day equals three-day holiday for a shockingly large amount of New Yorkers, Penn Station was packed to the brim. I just missed the train I wanted and decided to look for a spot to stand and watch the monitors for the track number of the 4:17 train to pop up a bit more out of the way than adjacent to the ticket counter.

I was hot from rushing around in surprisingly high temps even though I was only wearing jeans and a t-shirt with ballet slippers. Although I was now inside, my sunglasses were still perched on my head. As I was scouting around for a better spot to wait I was holding my blackberry in one hand having just read an email from Tiffany (so I kind of blame her for the events that follow). Just before I telescoped the handle of my suitcase back into its hiding spot and picked it up to walk down the stairs, I had a fleeting thought to take the spiraling ramp to my right. I guess I'm not good at listening to promptings that require me to maneuver through hordes of people in the opposite direction of my instant trajectory because instead, I picked up my suitcase with my left hand which shifted the balance from my overly burdened right shoulder carrying my purse and my blackberry in my right hand to the left as I prepared to descend.

I took one step down the marble step without incident but the second step was not so lucky. That second step happened in an instant and in slow motion all at once. I felt my right foot continue to propel forward when it should have remained on the step after contact but it just kept sliding straight out in front of me inexplicably as the rest of my body was propelled backwards onto the hard marble steps with enough of a calamitous thud that I could swear I heard a collective gasp from the innumerable commuters and travelers milling about the station also waiting for their track number to pop up on the monitors. I slid a couple of steps as my arms made contact with the steps hard edges, my sunglasses flew in one direction and my blackberry another. I think I heard a man to my right apologizing that it was his fault - maybe he pushed or jostled me as I maneuvered around the man sitting on the steps to my left. I don't know. I felt nothing but adrenaline which propelled me back to my feet in an instant declaring loudly to the strangely silent station that felt as though it was holding its collective breath: "I'm OK!" After which, time started moving again, breathing resumed and noise returned and faces turned back to their own phones, blackberries, traveling companions and the track monitors. Someone handed me my blackberry as I scooped up my sunglasses and heaved my purse back onto my right shoulder and the man sitting on the steps to my left (who may or may not have been hit with my suitcase) returned my suitcase to an upright position and made a passing comment on it being heavy as I collected myself and hustled down the remaining stairs muttering thank yous without making eye contact, anxious to find a less conspicuous spot to assess the damage.

Momentarily I thought I was injury free, then the adrenaline subsided and I realized my right butt cheek was very sore since it absorbed the bulk of the fall. I also noticed I was bleeding on my right pinky. I could do nothing with it but hold it away from my belongings and hope that I didn't get tetanus. Because seriously, this is the floor of Penn Station. Blech. My left forearm was scraped red but everything else was in order. I focused on the monitor and tried to appear cooly nonchalant as if I hadn't just slid down several marble stairs in front of a jampacked train station that gasped as one. Then I rushed off to my train when Track 1 appeared and once seated I dabbed up the blood with a tissue I dug out of my overstuffed purse.

I don't claim to have a lot of embarrassing moments. I think I usually forget them pretty quickly or they are of the stupid-things-I've-said-in-social-situations variety that haunt me as I'm trying to fall asleep by looping incessantly in my head but are mostly innocuous. But falling seems to be a common theme in the embarrassments I can easily recall. I can usually blame a bad knee that has endured two surgeries to substantiate its failings, but I can't say this one had anything to do with my knee giving out. Oh, and this isn't the first time I've fallen in a train station either (hello, Wilmington, Delaware circa summer of 2000 on my first trip to bankruptcy court with two partners as a law student - in a skirt suit!). I've also fallen walking up the stairs in Rockefellar Center, in a pothole in the middle of 56th Street walking to work, possibly walking down the stairs in high school on the last day of school but that is fuzzy and part of me thinks I almost fell and the memory is just the fear that I almost fell in front of the whole school . . . no idea which is true. Needless to say, falling is not a new thing to me. But this may have been my most public display of clumsiness.

So I've shared it with you in the hopes that my awkwardness can bring a smile to your face. Or maybe you want to tell me about your trips, falls and embarrassing moments.

And as a reminder, you can still ask me a question, you have until noon tomorrow. Just remember in formulating your questions that my mother reads my blog.......


Tiffany said...

Clearly, you need to stop using trains. And taking stairs.

Taxis and elevators, that's the ticket!

michele said...

totally tiffany's fault!

Mary said...


That's way worse than when I fell down five steps at BYU's Bean Museum and skinned my shin. Children and the skinned giraffe on the wall may have giggled.

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