26. Tripping and falling
You would assume that after living for a while, a person might at least be skilled in something called walking. And its true, over the years we’ve gotten better and better at walking (with few exceptions). So it is natural to feel uncomfortable when someone falls in public.
The faller: First of all, that sucks. Second, what the heck are you supposed to do once everybody gets to see you fail at walking? Maybe something got in the way (a cat, banana peel, etc.) but that doesn’t matter anymore. You’re on the ground, and now its time to avoid the stares. Here’s what to do:
1) Avoid eye contact with those around you, they’re only looking at you to find out how you’re going to react, so choose your moves wisely.
2) If someone comes up to you and asks you if you’re O.K., remember that it is a natural reaction for people to ask that, and they’re not trying to embarrass you even more. People would probably watch someone get hit by a bus and still approach him with “Are you O.K.?”
3) Get back up and pretend it happens to you all the time. Or you could pretend that you decided to spontaneously drop for some random push-ups –you can say that its part of your workout program.
The spectator: C’mon.. laugh. You know you want to, jerk! I once started laughing uncontrollably as a girl fell and rolled down 4 steps at my university. I felt bad shortly after, but the fall was EPIC! She threw her book bag up, (wow.. I’m mean. I’m seriously laughing right now) and made a facial expression I had never seen and will probably never see again. Here’s what to do:
O.K. scratch that idea, you probably won’t do it. Let me just tell you what actually happens, I call it the Five Stages of Watching Someone Fall:
Surprise– It was definitely unexpected, and someone having a hard time with gravity surprises you. Your mind might hesitate on taking any specific action. Can be identified by a :O expression.
Acceptance- Yes, you realize that what you saw actually happened. And yes, you just witnessed it. This is the part where a dog would tilt his head to see things in a different perspective.
Conscience– This is the part where you become aware that you’re actually standing there, and people usually like to take this chance to look around. If present with a group of friends, eye-contact encounters will occur.
Confusion– Should you laugh? You might. Or you might try to help the person stand up. Maybe you should ignore it? What to do, what to do? After you’ve made your decision and carried through with it, you will reach the next and final level:
Analysis– This is where you think about your actions. Do you regret laughing? Was the fall preventable . . . did you cause it? These thoughts can lead you to guilt, deep philosophical thoughts, or more laughter.
Do you see why this is double sided? Awkward for the faller AND the spectator(s). A true awkward moment, I like these . . but I avoid them at all cost.