This morning I woke up determined to write a poem. Yesterday, I turned one year older and today I was determined to start anew. My poem was going to begin, “Now that I am fifty-three, I shall . . . “ or perhaps it was “Now that I am fifty-three, I shall not . . . “ Instead, I decided to procrastinate and take advantage of one of my birthday gifts. I was given a session at a reputable running store to be custom fit for a pair of running shoes, a hopeful and positive step to get my motivation back. I arrived at the running store and let them measure my feet, digitally calibrate my stance as well as the height of my arch, and videotape me running barefoot. There were no surprises. My amateur assumptions held up – I was wearing the right size shoe, was a neutral runner with a high arch, and favored my left side a bit more than my right. They custom-molded inserts and led me to the bench to start trying out shoes. With the first pair laced up, I was taken to the treadmill. I am a distance runner and I will run outside in almost any condition rather than run on a treadmill. The salesperson turned on the conveyor belt and showed me how to increase the speed.
“Just hit this red stop button when you are done.”
Five minutes later, I hit the button and assumed the treadmill would stop in short order. I seriously miscalculated. I stopped, but the treadmill didn’t and in a flash I flew off the back, fell forward hitting my chin, cheek and right hand and eye on the conveyor belt. Treadmills are a lot like a belt sander when skin meets the running surface. Yes, I was embarrassed, but more than anything I was one stinging mess. The salespeople in the store acted rather nonchalant as if such antics happen all the time, just another “I Love Lucy” episode. I hobbled to the bench and tried not to cry. My face and right eye were stinging and I knew a dose of salty tears would only make it worse.
The solicitous salesperson tried to cut the awkwardness with a helpful observation.
“Looks like you might have a little raspberry on your chin. How did those shoes feel?”
I gritted my teeth holding back all the bad things I could have said. I looked down at my hand, now starting to weep and swell as the raw exposed skin reacted to the trauma. I could only imagine how my face looked. The salesperson arrived with another box of shoes. As he laced and unlaced, I wondered if anyone was going to ask me if I was alright. I wasn’t sure how I would respond.
“Do you need a minute?”
“Yeah, I think I do.”
After another awkward silence, I tied up the shoes with a bow and decided to get back on the horse or should I say treadmill again. This time the salesperson attached the safety latch and explained that the stop button had a delay to it and I should continue running until it slowed down. It was hard to concentrate on how the shoes felt when my face and hand were throbbing in pain. I successfully finished the test without any middle-aged body parts flying off the treadmill. I sat back down and tried to explain how the shoes felt. The eager salesperson left to find the perfect shoes once again, leaving me alone with my injuries. I finally flagged down another salesperson and asked if I could get a paper towel and perhaps some ice, anything to clean up. She returned with a dry paper towel which did nothing better than stick to my various abrasions. My mind was racing, I just wanted to leave. More boxes of shoes arrived and I finally just did the eeny-meeny-miny-moe and selected a pair. Finally an icepack arrived, not quite frozen. I tried to handle the exchange, the ice pack, and put the two small band aids they offered me in my pocket. With a sales slip in my hand and encouragement that I was going to love my new shoes, I hobbled to my car. I took a look in the rearview mirror and staring back at me was a woman that looked like she had been jumped in a dark alley.
Why didn’t anyone ask if I was alright? Why didn’t they show me to a restroom so I could compose myself? Why didn’t I demand to speak to the manager? My eye was beginning to swell so I stifled my outrage and pride and drove home while I could still see.
I’ve spent the evening taking ibuprofen, dabbing Neosporin, and testing my tolerance for icepacks and Q-tips. I’ve counseled my husband and daughter to not let me browse a running store unaccompanied. And I’ve only written one line to my poem.
Now that I am fifty-three, I shall never wish to be Cinderella again.
© 2013 Kelly Tweeddale