Next week, I’m receiving my second injection.
Soon after, I’ll be “safe” (in whatever level that word implies). Being a responsible, patriotic citizen, I will continue to mask up and engage in protected behaviors until given the green light. At that point, be forewarned, I plan to hug strangers – simply to get back to the quota of hugs that have been so depleted during the pandemic. That said, I’m planning a road trip for fall. The excitement of visiting friends, seeing new locations, as well as actually going into restaurants has me eagerly anticipating the end of summer.
I used to travel a great deal; not always ending up in the manner I assumed.
On an important business trip to meet two potential clients in San Francisco, I wanted to look my spiffiest, so I purchased a suit and black leather, dress, wing-tip shoes. I distinctly remember they were stiff as new shoes can be — and had slippery soles — causing me to consistently walk with a light, self-conscious gait as if always avoiding stepping on something fragile. Mostly, however, the odd way in which I moved was due to the discomfort of the shoes while attempting to maintain my balance, and project an aura of confidence in my meetings; all the while continuously on the verge of having my feet slip out from under me.
Meeting number one was in a building at a higher elevation of one of San Francisco’s steeper streets, the type where they don’t parallel park due to the angle. Afterward, I exited the structure to go downhill. It had been previously drizzling; the sidewalk had a slick wetness. This, as one might expect, made walking in my leather-soled, brand-new, slippy-slidey shoes even more precarious.
I stepped out of the building, planting both feet on the pavement, and – voip! – my well-clad behind hits the sidewalk, gravity kicks in, and I embark rolling side over side down the hillside like a bowling ball zeroing in on pins.
Aside from being embarrassing, it was frightening; I couldn’t stop, eventually running out of inertia halfway down the block, where a couple of women, seemingly on their lunch breaks, witnessed what happened and darted down the hill to offer assistance. (Of course, they were smart enough to take off their shoes and run in stockings.)
“Are you OK?” they asked.
“Yes,” I said, humiliated beyond words. “I’m fine, just embarrassed,” I attempted to look dignified while wiping off bits of debris from my clothing and sitting in a suit on a wet sidewalk.
“We’ve all been there,” was the response.
I’m not sure I believed that; nonetheless, I thanked them generously and wished them well. They continued on their way down the hill.
After further dusting myself off, I stood up from sitting on the wet pavement, collected my wits, shook myself off, stepped forward, and – Gablam! – did it again!
Out go my feet from under me, my behind reunites with the asphalt, and I resume plunging uncontrollably down the boulevard. As fate would have it, I come to the end of my roll by bumping into the female Samaritans who had assisted me with this very same predicament five minutes prior. Fortunately, I did not bowl them over
I must say – in all caps – THERE ARE NO WORDS, NO COMBINATION OF SYLLABLES AND SOUNDS, THAT CAN COMMUNICATE HOW MORTIFIED WAS I. Oh my lord, I wanted to evaporate, disappear as if I never existed.
All that aside, they were genuinely kind. Who knows? Maybe this a rite of passage in the young upwardly mobile professional class of those in the City by the Bay.
They helped me to my feet, and while — yet again — watching as I picked pebbles and cigarette butts from my person, one queried, “Can I offer some advice?”
I mean, what am I going to say? “No, I’ve got it under control. It’s a new form of urban sidewalk work-out thing I’m developing?”
“Sure,” I respond. “It’s obvious I can use some help.”
She gestured to my feet. “Take off the shoes.” Smiling warmly, she helped me rise up, waved, and continued on with her friend.