I’m sporting a skinned knee, my first in decades, courtesy of a sidewalk lump that attacked me.
I haven’t skinned a knee since I was about eight years old, and my mother told me to run to the store. I’m a native Texan, so I should’ve known that “run to the store” didn’t mean physically run. I’d run to the store for her before – for a loaf of bread, usually – and that running involved actually pedaling my bike down to the neighborhood convenience store.
But this time seemed different. My parents were painting, and my mom declared they needed paint thinner in a hurry. Her tone implied that an impending disaster would occur, so speed was of the essence. I was elected to go since besides being involved in painting a room, my parents also had to keep an eye on my brother and sister, who were both toddlers.
I had visions of the paint hardening, so I literally ran the two blocks to the end of our street, where a small shopping center held a Piggly Wiggly, a five & dime, and other small stores. Getting there wasn’t hard since it was slightly downhill. Hoping I’d bought the right thing, I started the run back up the hill. I was tired, the can was unwieldy, and before I knew it – boom! I tripped on a sidewalk bump and skidded hard on the concrete.
By the time I arrived home, I had a huge hole in my white jeans, with blood pouring down my leg. My mom never could get the stains out, so she turned the jeans into shorts. Paint thinner was added and voila – crisis solved! I’ve had the scar all these years, though, to remind me of it.
My latest skinned knee occurred during my daily walk, which I can’t seem to live without. I spied two guys mixing concrete a couple of houses away, and I started reining in our dog before his curiosity led him to investigate. He’s like a child from “Family Circus” on his retractable leash, wandering all around, checking out every bush, tree, fallen leaf, lamppost, and stop sign around. He always stops to stare when someone gets into or out of a car or if anyone opens a door to walk outside to get the newspaper. He is utterly fascinated by men hammering on roofs or sawing in a front yard. Anything out of the norm, he feels the need to check out. Concrete and his snout seemed like a bad combination to be prevented.
So I was concentrating more on bringing him closer to me rather than what lay before me – and that’s when I tripped, as I walked at my usual warp-speed. The sidewalk bulged up due to a tree’s roots pushing it up, and I went sailing. I’ve tripped before (I’m a real klutz), but I always seem to catch myself before I fall, looking around guiltily to see if anyone caught my close call.
This time I hit the concrete hard with both knees and the heels of my hands, the leash flying through the air. My gloves protected my hands, so they only received minor scrapes. The left knee fared the same, though it now has a deep bruise. The right? Well, let’s just say I tore it up something good.
What hurt the most (beyond my pride) wasn’t my raw, bloody knee as I lay sprawled on the ground on all fours. It was the fact that the two men, now but a house away, never looked up. I thought I would get a sympathetic smile or they’d call out, “You okay?” Or maybe even one of them might pick up the dog’s leash and hand it to me. I’d even have understood them snickering or a belly laugh out loud (I did look pretty ridiculous).
But not even a glance?
At that moment, their utter lack of civility crushed my spirit.
I understand that they didn’t know me and I didn’t know them, but a word or a kind smile would’ve gone a long way in making me feel better. I managed to get to my feet, limped over to my dog and calmly sweet talk him as I picked up his leash before he took off running, and put one foot in front of the other, gritting my teeth because I really hurt! It took about four houses of stiff shuffling before I began walking normally again. I made it home, jumped in the shower (my Texan-ese again – no, I didn’t literally jump), and cleaned my wound.
But it bothered me that those two men never asked if I was okay or if I needed any help. The absence of a polite gesture hurt my feelings far more than anything else. I’m not a Blanche DuBois, who “always depended upon the kindness of strangers,” but I thought I lived in a civil neighborhood. It left me with one of those moments of sounding like my parents – “What’s the world coming to?”
I hope this little crack in behavior doesn’t become the norm. I hope these two men, if anything ever happened to either of them, would have someone treat them with compassion. I hope little events such as this don’t signify in the grand scheme of things that these were the small beginnings of the end of our civilized society.
And I sure hope I never skin my knee again. Ever. Because it really hurt.