Thursday, September 29, 2011

Not Even Escalators Are My Friends

I had this tradition at my previous job. The day I traveled for work (or the day before if I were leaving on a weekend) I always had lunch at the 5 Guys in the International Square food court. I figured since I'd be stuck on airplanes for 8+ hours with nothing that resembled actual consumable food, a bacon cheeseburger with extra bacon, mayo, lettuce, fried onions and ketchup and a side of Cajun fries wouldn't kill me.

Until one day it almost did.

The escalators at International Square are of the super narrow kind that only has room for one person (rather than two people side by side). I was still in the throes of fear over the scariest experience of my existence so rather than walking down the very short escalator as I had done in the past, I not only stood for the ride but held onto both railings. However not even that saved me.

To this day I am unclear as to what actually happened. The best I can guess is that I misjudged how close to the bottom of the escalator I was so when I stepped off, thinking solid ground would be right there, it wasn't. And I managed to fall down the last two, steadily disappearing, escalator steps. My right foot folded under me and for a wee moment I was standing on my ankle before I completely collapsed. I can only be grateful that my embarrassment was limited to the one gentleman behind me (rather than the hoards of people who usually swarm International Square). He was thankfully far enough behind me on the evil people mover that we did not collide because I couldn't get up. My problem being not only what I was sure was a broken ankle, but the fact that I was trying to use the escalator rails to push myself up but the buggering things kept moving me forward. So maybe I half fell down a few more times.

I was finally able to launch myself into a semi standing position and all but threw myself on the lip of the giant cigarette ash urn thing that was handily located right at the bottom of the escalator. Once I was out of his way the gentleman  rushed to me to ask me if I were ok while nicely ignoring my previous floundering. I assured him that I was fine (I was decidedly NOT fine), that this happens all the time (sadly true) and that I just needed to rest for a couple minutes. I sat there for about 10 minutes until my ankle went from screaming pain to a throbbing dullness, all the while smiling at everyone who passed as though I sit on cigarette urns every day.

When I felt well enough, I dragged myself reluctantly off the urn and limped to 5 Guys. Because hell yes I was still getting my bacon cheeseburger and fries. As if I was going to have nearly killed myself for them and return to the office sans their artery clogging gloriousness.

Shortly after getting back to my office and demolishing my well deserved burger I realized that the trauma and grease had made me quite thirsty. I gazed longingly at the empty water bottle sitting on my desk but my ankle, which was propped up on my CPU, had vigorously renewed it's throbbing. I guiltily sent a Skype message to a coworker with whom I'd been working only a short time and asked if she would do a very menial task and please get me some water. Bless her, she came right over and when I explained what had happened she suggested she get some ice for me as well.

Coincidentally or not, she's now a very good friend.

When she came back to my office with the requested water and ice our ueber boss was in there talking to me. She made this little gesture towards me like, do I give this to you with him in here or not. I waved her forward because I didn't care, set the water on my desk and slapped the bag of ice on my ankle, which my boss was now noticing was propped up on the CPU. I just looked at him and said, quite simply, "I fell down again."

He just rolled his eyes at me and continued talking.

I had an opera opening that Saturday so I did not leave for, Moldova I think it was, until Sunday. At the opera, the season opening no less, my lovely black cocktail dress and black sequined shoes looked odd against the Ace bandage holding together my ankle. For the flight I found a different kind of wrap, this odd blue gummy thing that acted like an Ace but was cold! It was brilliant for the flight. Of course then I had to change planes in Germany and go through security and almost miss my flight cause they were all 'what the heck is that'. Despite the many times I have almost missed flights in Germany (due more to my office's travel agent and his "legal" layovers that to the Germans) I will say that as uptight as Germans are about security, they still manage to be more efficient, more polite, and don't require that you off your shoes than the invasive, power hungry, masochistic folks at the TSA.

So yeah, from then on I stopped being so cocky while on escalators and now I firmly plant myself (on the right, thank you) and ride the escalator all the way down.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Mutant Spider Attack

When I first moved to Taiwan I lived in a dorm somewhat on the fringes of the city. I initially chose the dorm because, well how was I going to look for an apartment from Michigan? and because they'd pick me up at the airport. I moved out after about a month I think.

 You can see why I moved out.

However while I was there I was attacked one day by a mutant spider! We have spiders in Michigan but nothing like this. Mostly we have Daddy Long Legs which I don't think are actually spiders...they're creepy insects with itty bitty bodies and super long spindly legs. We also have Wolf Spiders which are freaking scary. They range from quarter to silver dollar in size, are fat and hairy, and JUMP. They're super hard to kill because they JUMP. This mutant spider was not like either of these.

I saw it first on the wall of my dorm. It was not a small spider and I think the largest one I've ever seen. And it was black and fat and hairy and scary. I briefly considered throwing a shoe at it but vetoed that plan as I'm not a good thrower and was afraid of pissing it off. So I ran.

I looked back at the creature once before slamming the door and noticed that it had, unbelievably, grown even larger!

I want first to the front desk and tried to explain that there was a mutant spider in my room and someone needed to call Taiwan's SWAT team to deal with it. Unfortunately at that time I knew neither the Mandarin words for 'spider' nor 'mutant' (蜘蛛 and突變體 btw) so the front desk guy wasn't a lot of help. He did give me some bug spray but I was sure nothing short of napalm would stop this monster. So I rounded up some of the people I knew and a few more came to my aid out of curiosity.

I'm sure the big white girl shrilling about a mutant spider was entertaining.

However once other people say the creature, which by now had grown to be larger than my desk, they were also convinced that it needed to die. Armed with the bug spray, some shoes, possibly a broom, several of the onlookers attacked the beast.

It was surprisingly fast for a creature so large. Surely a genetically mutant freak should have a flaw? If the continuously growing spider beast had one, slowness was not it. Eventually though, the brave offensive attack was successful and the creature was vanquished.

And the villagers celebrated.

I danced around crowing that we had killed the monster while everyone looked at me sceptically wondering what was with this 'we'? While they went in to attack I cowered in the hall. Well not cowered specifically...more like provided moral support from a safe distance so as not to interfere with their tactical maneuvers.

The scary spider was about the last straw for me and I started to look for an apartment shortly there after. Granted the place I moved into often had dead gecos in the bathroom, formerly had a rat problem, had no heat, and had demons...but it did NOT have mutant spiders.