Thursday 7 November 2013

I Prefer The Black Hole

I just fell up the stairs. WTF?

Over the years I have come to rely on gravity to do what it is supposed to do which is keep my feet down and my head up. Oh, I understand that up and down are somewhat subjective, but by and large I have had no real reason to question gravity until recently.

I spent thirty years in a job where falling was expected on a more or less regular basis. Certainly in the winter months with ice covered by snow and sometimes the terrain was treacherous. You develop an almost sixth sense about dangers lurking under that thin covering of snow and your feet seek out the safest path down the sidewalk or across the street.

You can’t always avoid falling and when you do fall it is better to fall smart. They say that you should never put your arms out to catch yourself as that will result in broken wrists. The best way to fall is to let your self go slack, and not worry too much about the impact as it won’t really be that bad. That is easy to say, but as you are falling, the sensible thing is to stop yourself any way that you can. Louise fell on some ice a few years ago and I told her that she should have held her arms close to her body and gone limp. She told me that would have been impossible and no one could do that. I told her that every time I fall at work, that’s exactly what I do, and she said “Bullshit!”

It isn’t a conscious thing, but for a letter carrier it is a natural thing. Only once will you be laying on your back watching a handful of letters drift out of the sky all around you. The next time, you hug your mail tight to your body so that you don’t need to spend ten minutes picking up mail and sorting it on your lap. The first thing I always did when I fell was to look around to see just who was in their window laughing. They wouldn’t get any good mail for weeks!

I have always understood that as you get older, falling becomes a very real worry. Your bones become brittle and you don’t have any mail to protect and cuddle. I just didn’t think I would be falling up my back stairs. The feeling is similar to when you start running down a hill and as you run faster, your body begins to gain ground on your legs. You can keep up for a while, but eventually and inevitably you are going to end up on your face or your ass. I have always tried to land on my ass, but I do have an almost invisible scar on my chin.

I think my slippers are just a tad too large and the toes catch on the stairs when I am not paying attention. I overcompensate by throwing the opposite foot ahead and wind milling my arms. The lack of gravity has taken over by then and I will generally end up on my knees wondering if there is a tiny black hole forming in my back staircase. It’s either the black hole explanation or that I am getting clumsy as I get older.

I think I prefer the black hole explanation.

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