We All Fall Down

I fell down on the job today.

I was working the service desk, and the heat kicked on. It was already close to 80. My coworker had said something to me about the air conditioning malfunctioning, but it didn’t seem like it was warm enough outside for the A/C to be running. Based on the scorching hot air being forced from the ceiling onto my head—the vent is directly over where I have to stand to use the computer—I was pretty there was a problem with the heat.

The library had been extremely quiet all day. A few phone calls and two students using computers. I was working on other projects at the service desk, but I decided to see what my coworker had experienced heat-wise during his shift at the service desk.

I walked toward the back of the library and positioned myself so that I could talk to my coworker, who was in his cube in the office, while still keeping an eye on the front desk in case someone walked in. We talked about the HVAC as you do, and then he started talking to me about something else.

I do not remember what my coworker was telling me. After a moment, I realized that while I had been looking in his direction, a woman and her small boy had walked in the doors and were waiting at the desk.

My coworker couldn’t see them. I was trying to interrupt my coworker so I could tell him that there was a student at the desk, while simultaneously indicating to the student and her child that I was hurrying to help them.

I’m not entirely sure what happened next. I think I was trying to walk in two directions at once and the sole of my shoe snagged on the carpet. My foot seemed to keep moving within the shoe, and then I knew I was going over.

There’s that sense, once you know you are going to fall, that time slows down. I managed to shift my weight and hit the floor first with the right side of my bottom. Momentum kept me going and I rolled to the outside of my right thigh. The inside of my left knee struck the ground and then the base of my right hand.

I knew I’d have a bruise where I’d first landed, but basically I was fine. I’d fallen just a few feet from the library’s one and only Mac, and I was glad I hadn’t taken it down with me.

My coworker came running. I said, “I’m fine, but would you help the student at the desk for me?”

He did, and I picked myself up off the floor, took a second to collect myself, and went up to the desk to relieve my coworker. He and the student were engaged in some kind of renewal conversation, so I stood six feet back and waited.

I was still breathing just a little harder than usual. I noticed the little boy was staring at me and that he looked scared. It didn’t occur to me in that moment that I’d frightened him by falling. I just smiled at him behind my mask, said hi, and gave the supplementary wave that is part of my looking-friendly-behind-a-mask routine. He looked a little more relaxed and waved back.

When the student and my coworker had finished, I said, “Excuse, M’am?”

She turned toward me.

“We have a lot of great children’s books, if you’d like to check anything out.”

We have a barely-used collection of wonderful picture books. They are purchased primarily for the students in the early childhood program, but any student can check them out. They are in a sort of wing behind the office, and many students have no idea they are there.

The student said, “No, he’ll just ruin them.” She wasn’t annoyed, just matter of fact. She put her books into one arm and took her child’s hand. As she walked him to the door, he turned looked back at me over his shoulder. We locked eyes one more time.

I wish I knew what he was thinking.

One thought on “We All Fall Down

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s