Emergency Preparedness and Schadenfreude

It was a spectacular fall.  Nearing the end of my lunch time run, my toe caught just enough of the sidewalk to throw off my stride in a dramatic – or, rather comedic – way.  I took a few exaggerated floppy steps, as if running in over-sized clown shoes, impossibly attempting to recover my balance while quickly losing altitude.  I was going down, and I began to flail my arms in wide circles, fully committing to the part of circus clown.  Finally, sensibly, my hands came down in front of my body to absorb some of the impact at the same moment my knee hit the concrete.  I yawed to the right, and my wrist and elbow scraped the sidewalk.  When the failed-to-stick-the-landing moment ended, I was laying on my back wondering what the hell happened.

There were no pedestrians nearby, but it’s possible a few workers in the nearby office building saw me fly past their window as I executed my swan dive.  I got back on my feet quickly to make sure all my parts were in working order and to put any potential witnesses at ease.   If I stayed down on the pavement, they might feel the need to leave their desks to help or call 911, and I hate to inconvenience people.  I resumed running and noted that, while my knee was bloody, my palms hurt the most from the sting of  smacking the sidewalk.

The fall – my first in over twenty years of running – got me thinking about emergency preparedness.  Several years ago, I was a member of an urban search and rescue team and had the opportunity to learn a lot about being ready for a major earthquake.  As a result, I’ve prided myself on maintaining an extensive stock of emergency supplies: food, water, first aid, extra clothing, etc.  I’m by no means a survivalist “prepper” anticipating a breakdown in the social or political order, though that seems to be a possibility depending on how the election goes.  My preparations are specifically geared towards feeding and watering my family for a few days in the event the local Safeway isn’t accessible.

In keeping with my general bent towards preparedness, I have maintained a supply of first aid equipment in my running bag for many years in the event I need to treat a running-related injury.  When I made my way back to the locker room, I was pleased with myself that I was fully prepared to treat my wounds.  Unfortunately, the antiseptic wipe was completely desiccated despite being sealed up in a foil packet, and when I attempted to pull a bandage from its wrapper, the sticky parts tore away from the gauzy dressing part.  When I tried to get the sticky parts off my fingers, the rubber-like material disintegrated into tiny bits of mucilage that refused to let go.  Apparently, fifteen years is a bit past the expiration date for first aid kits.  This weekend, when you set your clocks back to mark the end of Daylight Savings Time, use the occasion to change the batteries in your smoke alarms and replace the bandages in your first aid kits.

On a side note, before taking any remedial action to treat my wounds, I photographed the bloody gore of my scraped knee and posted it to Facebook.  While I didn’t want anyone to have to rush to my aid on the sidewalk, I did want to draw the attention of people who, presumably, care about my well being.  I presume it’s obvious that I’m a bit of an attention whore based on the fact I write books and blog about myself, and Facebook is a great vehicle for feeding my benign narcissism.  However, the responses I got gave me mixed feelings about the state of humanity, or at least about the character of my Facebook friends.  While many people offered well-wishes, several commented that, had they been there to watch me fall, they would have laughed at the spectacle.  In fact, when I told a colleague about my fall, her first reaction was to laugh, heartily.  Schadenfreude is alive and well.  Such is life.  It was a spectacular, and funny, fall from which I’ve fully recovered, and I’m always happy to make someone laugh, even if it involves a scraped knee.  We need all the laughter we can get these days.



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