The Blog

CAUTION: Icy Surface

Categories: Newsletter | Posted: January 11, 2018

Some of you that are friends with me on Facebook may have seen my post about falling on the ice this week. I’m 52 years old and this is the first time I’ve fallen on the ice. If someone would have been shooting a video of me walking out the door into the parking lot, it likely would have ended up being featured on one of those YouTube “slipping on ice” compilations.

If you’ve never had the pleasure of having your feet fly out from under you and landing hard on your backside, you should feel lucky. It’s frightening how fast it can happen, and yet everything seemed like it was in slow motion. As I was in mid-fall I was thinking, “Oh God. Please don’t let me break something.” At the same time I was also thinking, “Oh boy this is going to hurt bad!”

After hitting the blacktop, I just lay there for a few seconds while catching my breath, thankful that my head didn’t pound the pavement first. That was actually my first thought. My second thought was, “I hope no one saw that.” Isn’t it funny that we are so embarrassed and feel stupid about falling? Well after giving this a few days to ponder, I’ve realized there are really only three strategies for recouping your pride and stopping the laughter from a passerby. Feel free to use any of these strategies the next time you slip and fall.

Strategy 1: Laugh Like Everyone’s Watching
What’s the best way to fight your way out of crushing embarrassment? Laugh with everyone else! Yes, bellow and hoot and holler and cackle as you lie on the ground, quietly dying inside. Try to get your friends involved too, if you have friends around. Point at yourself and laugh and maybe do a weird hand motion thing that signifies falling down and go “Whoop!” and then laugh again, even louder, hoping that no one notices that the tear streaking down your cheek isn’t one of soul-destroying embarrassment.

Strategy 2: Man Down, Man Down
Next to trying to laugh at yourself, the most immediate reaction to post-falling down embarrassment is to go for the sympathy. This decision happens in the split second after the first person comes over and asks “Are you OK?” Your immediate response should be, “No… I really think I hurt myself.” State it with a groaning voice as if you cannot breathe. You accept someone’s offer to help you stand up, which you do unsteadily, clutching some part of your arm or leg, saying “Ohh… oh… this is really bad.” This strategy works to immediately deflect attention from the embarrassing fact that you’re laid out in the middle of the sidewalk, but now you’ll need to work on your exit strategy by “walking it off” or lamely hobbling off with a fake limp while saying, “I’ll be fine. I’m good. Thank you for your help.”

Strategy 3: Nothing to See Here
This strategy is hands down the best choice if you can pull it off cleanly. Basically, you fall, then quickly pick yourself up and keep walking as if nothing has happened. Nothing at all! Maybe you give a little look back to where you fell, as if to identify the imperfection in the sidewalk that caused your tumble. This is probably the best way to deal with an embarrassing spill, as it minimizes attention and is over fairly quickly. Really, there’s no way to handle the situation gracefully — you fell and that is deeply shameful and horrible — but as strategies go, four out of five clumsy, drunken doctors recommend this tactic.

There may actually be a fourth strategy, some perfectly calibrated mixture of the above three, but only certain cool cucumbers have cracked that code. So, safe stepping out there. And just remember: if you fall on the street, know that I will be there, laughing and pointing at you!

Ron Henderson

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