Lessons from walking into a pole while looking at a phone

I walked into a pole.

A pole!

A big, giant, sticking-straight-up-out-of-the-ground pole. In the sidewalk. Screaming, “hey stupid! Don’t walk into me!”

I walked into it. While looking at my phone.

It kind of hurt. I bumped my knee. My arm hit it so hard that my phone spun out of my hand like a boomerang and into the street.

My wife was walking along next me: “Oh my gosh!” she said. “Are you OK?” I think she thought I had been shot. Until she noticed … “Wait a minute … did you just walk into that pole?!?”

I walked into “that” pole. Yes. Yes, I did.

And, no. I’m not OK. I’ll never be OK. Not anymore. Because now … now I am one of those people. The people I make fun of — not proud of it, but it’s who I am. (Or was!) The people who can’t walk and talk and look at the weather app on the phone, or whatever in the heck I was trying to do at the same time that I was putting (badly) one foot in front of the other.

I can blame it on a million things. I gave blood that morning, and I was feeling like a wilted bag of soggy spinach. Like the world was a hot, hazy land of … POLES STICKING OUT OF THE GROUND TRYING TO KILL ME!!!

No, no, I have to own this. This embarrassment. That I easily could have — or may still become! — one of those viral videos we see on the Internet where someone is reading a text and then falls down a manhole, or walks into a bull ring, or stumbles into a volcano (now that last one is a little harder to fathom.)

I make fun of those people. I laugh at those people. Big dummies!

And now, thanks to the stupid pole, I’m one of them.

Actually, thanks to ME.

Maybe I’m getting older. Maybe my eyesight is finally taking the b-line for Crappyville. Maybe I’m just no good at doing two things at once. Or never noticed the pole any of the 22,000 other times I walked down that street. Or need to learn to slow down and focus on the big, beautiful world around me. Or ignore my dang phone!

Maybe we all do stupid things. Maybe we’re all human and make silly mistakes. Don’t deserve to get skewered and judged for our minor transgressions all the time. Maybe we need to give others a pass once in a while, especially when we’re capable of turning around and doing the exact same thing a moment later.

Ouch! That’s the part that really hurts. Stupid life lessons!

Stupid giant, sticking-straight-up-out-of-the-ground pole. I heard it laugh at me as I walked away … and I fear it might have captured it all on video. So, don’t laugh too much if you see it online. There are a lot of poles (and active volcanoes!) out there.

Also published on Medium.

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