Walking down stairs

I used to think that only old people and small children fell down. Last Monday at the Demetri Martin show, I proved myself wrong. I was with Jennifer and Brian. We had just taken our seats in the balcony, and I needed to visit the bathroom before the show started. Let’s talk about stairs.

Walking down stairs is an autopilot activity. You don’t have to think about it. But if you were to break down how it works, it is something like this:

1. You kind of pay attention while you take the first few steps. This lets you get the feeling for the rhythm of the stairs.

2. You put one foot in front of the other and descend down the stairs.

Normally, the story ends here. You do whatever it is you planned to do at the bottom of the stairs. However, Monday night was tragically different.

1. Starts out innocent enough…

2. And then… an unexpected twist
In case you weren’t paying attention, here was the key difference

Who designed this? Isn’t there some kind of law that says that stairs must have a consistent slope? Why, yes, there is. A quick search for “seattle building code stairs” brings up the Seattle Housing and Building Maintenance Code as the first result.

22.206.130 Requirements.
A. Stair and Stairway Construction.
1. All stairs, except stairs to inaccessible service areas, exterior stairs on grade and winding, circular or spiral stairs shall have a minimum run of nine inches (9″) and a maximum rise of eight inches (8″) and a minimum width of thirty inches (30″) from wall to wall. The rise and run may vary no more than one-half inch (½”) in any flight of stairs. [emphasis mine]

When I fell, I didn’t even realize it until a split second after impact. My body was overcome with pain. I looked around to see if anyone had seen me fall, and no one nearby seemed to notice. On the way down, I hit my tailbone directly on the edge of a stair. It hurt immensely.

I called the 24-hour nurse line shortly after the show. The nurse asked me a series of questions to determine how bad the injury was: “Can you feel your toes?” Yes. “Are there shooting pains in your thighs and groin?” No. “Is there blood when you go to the bathroom?” No. Thank god, it could have been a lot worse. She told me how to do the ice/heat therapy, and that the course of treatment would be the same regardless of whether it was a break or a bruise. I would not need to see the doctor unless it felt equally bad or worse after four days, or if answer changed to any one of the previous questions.

Today it is almost one week later. I definitely feel better than last week, but it still hurts to sit. Has anyone else had any annoying injuries?

2 Responses

  • i think this post would have benefitted from a flash animation.

  • Jackie

    Aww, I hope you feel better. Also, I appreciate the details in the Sage stick figure.

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