The year was 2006. I was fresh out of college and working at my first job in the real world. I was about a month in and starting to get into the swing of things. I had learned how to set up my voicemail and could sign into my email 7 out of 10 times without having to look at the piece of paper where I had written all of my passwords. I was feelin’ good. I hadn’t made any work friends, per se, but I wore a suit on my first day in a casual office so I think it’s safe to say that I was on the right track.
It was just another ordinary day on the 21st floor when the fire alarms started going off. I was ready to boogie but no one seemed particularly concerned, so I played it cool. A voice came over the intercom and told us that we were to proceed in an orderly fashion to the 19th floor to await further instructions. Righto, off we go!
There were 2 stairwells in our building; the back stairwell was thinly carpeted, the front stairwell was not. This fact later proves to be very important. My half of the office happened to be closer to the back stairwell, so that’s where we headed. I was walking with my supervisor, my manager, the VP of our department and the one kid who was newer than I was. We get to the stairwell, chatting about how a fire alarm is a pretty nice break from work haha! and start to descend to the 19th floor.
Everyone except for the new kid was walking down the stairs in front of me and were just turning the corner to the 2nd flight of stairs to the 20th floor when I ran into trouble. I was stepping off of the top step and my heel got caught in the cuff of my pant leg. I pitched forward so fast that I didn’t even have time to put my hands up; I fell ass-over-teakettle and somersaulted down the flight of stairs – my manager had to lunge out of the way so that I didn’t rocket into him and take him down with me. I think that I was so horrified at my awkwardness that I blacked out because I fell like a stunt man and managed to not seriously injure myself. I hit the landing, popped up and immediately said what any self-respecting adult in my situation would say:
“Let’s not tell anyone else about this, okay?”
Everyone’s jaws had hit the floor about as hard as I had. They stared at me for what felt like hours. Finally the VP broke the silence by running down a flight of stairs to retrieve my wallet, which I had flung whilst airborne.
There was a really interesting dynamic in that stairwell. It occurred to me later that you can tell a lot about a person by how they react to someone falling hard enough to hurt themselves: one person was horrified and kept asking if I was okay, one person asked if I was okay once and then nearly lost their mind laughing and one person pretended that it had never happened. Those reactions pretty much summed up their personalities. Personally, I prefer to interact with personality #2; the only thing more awkward than tumbling down the stairs in front of co-workers is having to tell people time and time again that yes, you’re okay and that no, you probably aren’t going to cry.
Despite my request to keep the incident on the DL, word got out. Quickly. Just a tip for the soon-to-be college grads: I’m not saying that you should fall down the stairs during a fire drill in their first month of employment, but it does get you noticed. Also, don’t wear cuffed pants to work.