Subtlety does not surround me. And you would think my husband would be most aware of this gift of mine. And unfortunately, well, he forgets. He recently changed firms, and he informed me that we needed to pick up a check from his old office. He had been putting it off since it was, well, slightly uncomfortable to go back to the old company. But business must be done, and I figured this was an opportunity for me to help out. So I agreed to pick up the check from old office.
My husband asked me to go to a branch office where he did not know as many people, so I trucked across town with my four year old. I dressed cute so I would feel confident no matter what happened. My son and I were going to be super covert, go down to the office, pick up a check and head out, swiftly and with class. I find the office easily and realize this is the only branch that I have actually been to- to fill out paperwork when I worked there for a summer. Hmmm, bad start, but truly I don’t care if everyone knows me. My husband is a wonderful man, and I am perfectly comfortable with his place in the universe. He is the most ethical and honest person I know. I am totally not sweating this deal. We head to the wrong entrance, where I meet a lovely lady I’ve met about 10 times, and I’m pretty sure she knows it’s me. But we are just kind, and we don’t get into it. It’s the way it’s done in the industry. But of course, I’m thinking, ‘What is my husband thinking?’ He knows there’s going to be a convention this day for anyone who ever knew him. It’s just the way things go in the universe. But no, no convention so far. My little man and I head down the stairs to the office below to find a large floor of employees and customers open before us.
My son flips over onto his back, hits his head with a deafening BOOM and somehow slides down the stairs and keeps going. I leap in front of him, heels and all to break his fall and catch him before he falls any farther. I am watching in slow motion and trying to make the most efficient stop possible, given the steep stairs and my attire. And I did a hell of a job… three steps and no more. And as soon as he stopped sliding, the noise came to my ears. The muted movie sequence I had seen up to this point was corrected, and I heard the large wails coming from his tiny frame, and I realize they’ve been at this decibel level the entire time since we turned the corner. I just couldn’t hear him because I had been in the “zone”, like in soccer, when you’re trying to jump in front of the ball before it gets to the net. He is screaming like there’s no tomorrow. And look, everyone is looking at us… not just a few people, but every single face in the entire building. I couldn’t care less, but it is dawning on me that this is just too fabulous.
My reserved husband asks us to help him with one little chore, and this is how the universe repays him. And I hold my son’s head in my hands and a part of me starts to giggle. I am simultaneously feeling the small bump on my son’s head grow and pulsate only slightly. I seek the presence of blood (there was none) and assess the whole thing as just a nasty fall. But I can tell by the looks on all 3 kabillion people staring at us that it appears the sky has fallen, and my son is still screaming about it. The nice lady who politely did not show she knew me earlier comes down and says, “That was loud. Is he okay?” I can tell by his cry that he is surprised but nothing is broken or irreparable. I assure her we’re fine. But she sits on the stairs with us and continues to ask me questions. Uh-oh, they think this is really serious. She asks if we’d like a bag of ice, which to be honest, I never give my kids at home. Unless my friend, Carol is with me (who always has an ice pack in her purse), my kids get a bunch of kisses and a great big, “You’re fine, buddy.” I hold them forever, but I guess I didn’t get ice when I was little so it seems like an ancillary item.
But I tell her, yes, we’d like an ice pack, so I can effectively whisper in my son’s ear to “shhhh, buddy, you’re okay? Let’s just finish up this mission, I mean, errand, and we can get ya back home.” To which he cries louder. Yay, me! The nice lady runs back with an ice pack, followed by two other highly paid professionals offering cookies and balloons. I kid you not. My son has a freaking carnival being placed around him, and they are offering to move us to the reception area where there is a nice leather couch, complete with comforting art all about us. She asks another man to get up so we can take a seat!
I’m starting to lose it. I am going to start laughing out loud in like three seconds. And I really shouldn’t. I’ll be that huge bitch of a mom that is mean to her kids when they fall. But I didn’t think the FALL was funny. I just couldn’t believe this was happening. Where are the cameras? The branch freaking manager comes up to me and we go through the whole, “How is he doing” thingy as if this is doctor # 3 in the emergency room. She hands me paper and pencil and asks for my name and number because they had to turn this incident into Internal Affairs or something like that. I am now holding my son’s bruised skull in my hands and trying not to bust a gut. Do I use my real name? Mr. Previous Employer Who Left Your Company For New Horizons. And the number is “love my new job, no hyphens”. AHAHAHAHAHA! My poor husband! He really shouldn’t be so worried about these things. It just ends up tripping our children on the stairs.
I regain my composure slightly and leave my son on the couch in the small petting zoo, ordering a sundae from the ice cream vendor that just leaped up from a quiet office space nearby. (I jest, of course.) And I walk over to wait in line. The manager literally leaps over the six foot wall to offer me assistance at an open area. I am kinda loving this. I walk up and ask for the check. She looks at me and says, “How is your husband, by the way? He is so awesome. We really miss him around here.” And I’m thinking, ‘I really wish he could be here too.’ And so goes, now not only this manager- but every person here and at the corporate offices far, far away know that we went in today. They will probably hold a special international call this afternoon to specifically address my husband and the fact that his son just fell down the stairs in their branch. It couldn’t be funnier or more ridiculous. I say “thank you” graciously and thank her dearly for her care of my son. (It is inspiring how people really work together when a potential lawsuit is in order. I was really proud of them.) And of course, I would never sue! It was just one of those things—one of those everyday average falls down a flight of stairs at a firm you are trying to blend in at.
We had all had a tough 30 minutes of a chore that should have taken 30 seconds. They had a someone got hurt-ass kissing brigade come to order to avoid an ugly lawsuit because my son had a huge welt on his head and a small fit when I told him we couldn’t keep the farm animals. I had just decided that AGAIN, I shouldn’t be a secret agent, and thank my lucky stars I looked cute—since they would be reviewing the tape later—all over the US. The biggest lesson, though, was that if I was ever feeling unimportant or in need of the royal treatment, I could simply push one of my small children down the stairs and enjoy the next 30 minutes of uninterrupted attention and free children’s activities. God Bless the litigiousness of our society. (Is it wrong that I think they were avoiding a lawsuit and not just being nice? When did I get so cynical?) And to my dear husband, don’t send me on missions of subtlety. That’s all.