Accidentally on Purpose

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I had an entirely different blog  planned for this week and then catastrophe struck. It wasn’t really a catastrophe but every creative writing professor in the world tells you you need a “hook” to get people to keep reading. The word “catastrophe” is one of those hooks. Maybe not like what you’d catch Jaws with, but probably a good-sized striped bass. So please read on, and make Mr. McKay happy that I hooked you.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my hospital visits. I almost had to go there again this week.

I was in my usual rush to get things done while out in Black Beauty. I don’t know why; I was not on deadline, but for some reason I just wanted to run the errands and get back. I have a post office box at the UPS store for my business. It gives me a fancy address, should I have anything that requires a signature, they will sign for me, but I never get any mail there. That’s quite amazing to me, since I don’t even seem to get junk mail there. Last week’s blog should have convinced you that I am a junk mail magnet. I always go there on the hope that someone has sent me something. Once I did find a spider but when it saw me peering in the empty slot he took off back into the office area behind the mailboxes.

There is a “green zone” where the UPS store is. You can park there for 20 minutes. I do tend to baby Black Beauty, since her predecessors were the victims of innumerable dings caused by the  many swinging car doors in narrow parking spaces. The green zone is along the curb in front of a row of stores in the shopping center, so when I can do that, I park her there. Lo and behold, there was a parallel space just before UPS. I swung in, top down, sunglasses on, feeling swaggeringly cool because I’d landed the last coveted spot in the green zone. I had two places to go: the aforementioned UPS store and the ATM in the adjacent grocery store, all very doable in 20 minutes or less.

I stepped out of the car, didn’t notice I’d parked mid-way over a speed bump (an aside: will someone please explain to me why they put speed bumps in a grocery store parking lot where even if you attempted to speed it would not be possible between the shopping carts and people pushing shopping carts and unhappy toddlers trying to escape their Moms who are pushing the shopping carts?) Anyway, I hit the bump in my flip flops and proceeded to stagger for at least 20 feet before I did a full and complete face plant. I remember thinking of two things as I was plunging head first trying to regain my balance: 1) the Little Engine That Could storybook where he kept saying “I think I can! I think I can!” and 2) This must be what a full back feels like when he’s trying to get into the end zone.

It was like I was having an out-of-body-experience…I could actually see myself shuffling, sliding, stumbling, cha chaing along in the street, next to the row of cars. At some point I even remember giving up and knowing I was just going to hit the pavement. Right after I crashed onto the tarmac, out of nowhere appeared two young Valley girls, who came running over to me shouting “omigod! omigod! are you okaaaayyyy?” When I rolled over and looked up I immediately said to myself “Please don’t let them try to help me. My thigh weighs more than both of them put together.” I looked to my right and my purse (the one the homeless person lives in) had spilled onto the drive and among the things lying there were my purple toe separators and a bottle of pink polish which I was taking to the nail salon with me later in the day. One of the petite pretties gathered my odds and ends while the other hovered. I was suddenly aware of a crowd gathering. This was beyond embarrassing. It reminded me of the time I caught my rolling carry-on at the start of a moving walk-way in the Singapore airport, went down and caused a people-pile-up. You try righting yourself on a moving walk way. You go to stand, it goes away. You go to stand, it goes away. If it hadn’t been for Delia, I may still be in Singapore on the walkway.

Everyone had some opinion about my crash landing. I heard “Call 911! Call 911!” Someone else was worried I’d get run over while sitting there in the middle of the street. “Move her out of the way! There’s a car coming!”  (I was in a shocking pink shirt and matching striped slacks; I think I would have been seen.) Yet another person sent her daughter into the optometrist for medical assistance. What was Dr. Lee going to do? check to see if I broke my glasses? Down from me a little I saw a man who had to be 90 creeping towards me as fast as he could, all the while calling to me “Stay there! I’ll help you up!” I hadn’t even realized there were that many people around. I was a little out of breath (humiliation and embarrassment will do that to you) and as I thanked everyone I just said “I just need a minute. Thank you, thank you…” I somehow most ungracefully got to my feet (everyone got a great shot of my ample rear as I rolled over again and pushed myself up. That in itself could have been more terrifying than witnessing the actual fall.)

Upright again,  I realized I was throbbing everywhere. I thought that instead of the pavement I’d just gone a round or two with Mike Tyson. By the way, I was up, had picked up all my stuff and was heading toward the sidewalk while the lovely elderly gentleman was still trying to get to me. He doesn’t know how lucky he was. Helping me up could have killed him!

And of all days, “Lee” who does my nails at the salon (whose real name is the same as a dish I had last week in Little Saigon) decided that today, because I’d hurt myself, she’d treat me to a quick hand massage. Before I knew it, she had cream and was running her extraordinarily strong thumbs all over the swollen, throbbing part of my hand. She kept saying “You like? You like?” because she thought I was grinning. In actuality, I wasn’t grinning. I was gritting…my teeth. Man, did that hurt !!!

Of course, as I do with many of these “incidents” I posted it on Facebook. I think the responses were funnier than anything. My favorite, however, came from a buddy I play Scrabble with who lives in Kentucky. Her comment? “Well, at least you had a nice trip!”

I must add to this, however, how very humbled I was by the number of people who appeared out of nowhere and offered their help. For a brief moment I wondered if perhaps they thought there had been an earthquake when I hit the ground, but I really think they just saw a fellow human in trouble and attempted to give assistance.

So, next week I am going to the City Council meeting. I fully intend to limp in, raise the hand that isn’t swollen like a ham and ask why they insist on speed bumps in parking lots. Of course, when I tell the story, it wasn’t a speed bump. It was a speed mountain.

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