Last night, Janna and I were rushing home after teaching in New York City, and in the middle of Times Square, I had a moment I hope I never get to repeat.  I tripped — over my own two feet, or the curb, or a break in the sidewalk — and instantly fell long and hard on the sidewalk.  I was stunned for a moment and didn’t quite know where I was.  Janna was behind me somewhere and I remember one woman bending down to ask me if I was okay.

When I recovered a bit, I pushed myself up off the sidewalk, told the concerned woman I was okay and, not knowing what happened, or if I had been hit by somebody or what caused me to fall so hard so fast, my flight response took over, and I was up and sort of running/limping again to the train station.  I was lucky Janna was right behind me and kept an eye on me as I tried to regain my bearings.

Once we were in the relative safety of the train station, we did a little quick triage.  Right wrist throbbing?  Check.  Left knee bruised, but not bloody?  Check.  Left elbow scraped but not bruised?  Check.  iPhone okay?  Check.  Ego smashed?  Brutally.

When I asked Janna what happened, she didn’t see what tripped me, she just saw me in mid-fall on my way to a hard, and inevitable, end.  I felt stupid and embarrassed and a little old.  I immediately had flashbacks to hearing of my beloved Howard Stein‘s similar sort of fall in Times Square that landed him in the hospital and ruined his shoulder for the rest of his life.

Howard had just been walking, talking to someone on his way to a Broadway play, and he tripped and smashed his face and broke a couple of teeth.  I want to be as much like Howard Stein as possible, but not when it comes to matters of health — Howard had a hard time fighting  the will of his body.  I was haunted by Howard the rest of the evening.

I have decided the Vegan walking shoes I was wearing last night are cursed.  I now call them my “tripping shoes” because, even though they’re supposed to be for stabilizing the foot while you walk, I also seem to trip over things wearing them and last night was the final trip I’ll take in them.

Janna also told me I need to stop running across the street.  I wasn’t sure what she meant.  She told me whenever I’m out, and I have to cross the street, I always race from one side to the other, and that’s precisely what I was doing last night when I tripped:  Running.

I was surprised to hear about my running escapades and, on our walk home, I discovered she was right!  Whenever we hit a crosswalk, I would instinctively release our hand-holding and start running to the other side!  I think it’s because I have lived more in fear of getting hit by a car than worrying about tripping, but Janna made a good point that there’s no reason to run across the street unless there is imminent danger.  I need to work on walking.

As I sit here with a sore wrist and an aching knee, I am grateful I didn’t hit harder.  My head missed a curb by inches, and I know if I didn’t religiously do my Pilates reformer workouts every day, I might not have had the proper strength to sort-of catch myself.  When we arrived home and did final First Aid, my knee looked 100% better, though it still ached a bit on the inside, and I immediately credited that miraculously fast healing to my healthy diet and green tea maintenance.

Lessons Learned:  Wear better shoes, don’t run, walk; always hold your wife’s hand while crossing the street.

15 Comments

  1. Sounds like quite a harsh lesson, but I am grateful to hear that no teeth were lost in the fall — bruises come and go, but teeth don’t just pop back out! I like the lessons you took from this experience.

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  2. OUCH – I so hate doing that. Last time I did that it was on a cobbled street , left me with horrible bruises and that awful jolted up feeling – it took me three or four days to regain my equilibrium. Like you I felt like an idiot, and I hate feeling stupid! Do take it easy until you get your legs back !

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    1. Sorry to hear of your cobble street incident! These sort of hard trippings are difficult to forget.

      Janna reminds me there were about four people who reached out to try to help me last night. I don’t remember any of them except the one I mentioned. Lucky I tossed it in Times Square — full of tourists — who are friendly and eager to assist. SMILE! Local New Yorkers would probably just keep walking.

      Janna also says I should think about tossing the walking shoes. She says they’re meant for walking, not running across the street, and I’m using them wrong. She also says when we get tired, we tend not to quite lift our feet enough, so you need to concentrate more on clearing all the uneven streets and sidewalks in the City.

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  3. I also hurry across streets without realizing! When I have friends visit me from out of state, I end up taking off across the street, while they meander behind me like they have all the time in the world.

    Good thing the fall didn’t take too much out of you. It’s creepy to think about how such a momentary malfunction of the body could end up ruining your day or week, or life, if you’re Howard Stein. It’s also interesting that you popped back up so quickly without even knowing what happened or noticing the people trying to help you! Talk about fight or flight.

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    1. Hi Emily!

      Oh, that’s good to know I’m not alone in my race across the crosswalk! SMILE! I’m not sure if that’s a habit I’m willing to break. I am reminded of my “Gender Rules for Crossing the Street” article:

      https://bolesblogs.com/2013/01/24/gender-rules-for-crossing-the-street/

      Howard had about 30 years on me when he had his accident — so I can imagine just how hard he hit. That fall dogged him for the rest of his life, though he didn’t let it get him down or even bother him.

      Flight is right. All I could think — the alarm in my stomach going off — was to get up as fast as I could and run the heck out of there to access the damage. It was a strange, ethereal feeling of not know what happened, but a certainty that I couldn’t stay.

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      1. Yes, basic instinct got you up and out of there before you could even think!

        I just read the article you linked. Janna is definitely more confident in the pedestrian rule than I am! I know that technically she’s correct, but my dad has always warned me to never expect that people will actually follow the rules of the road, and to act cautiously and accordingly. Pessimistic, but realistic!

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        1. I feel so much better talking to you about this, Emily! It’s good to know I’m not the only one who wants to stay in the middle of the street for the shortest period of time.

          Of course, I think your Dad is correct — he’s a male on the issue! SMILE — cars care not about pedestrians and while you may have the right-of-way after being struck down and run over, the person who pays the real price for the infraction is the pedestrian hoping to recover in the hospital. Don’t risk it! RUN!

          But don’t trip.

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