New Year’s Eve of 1999 I spent lying in a bed hearing the Campanile bells chime Auld Lang Syne at midnight. I would have much rather have been in San Francisco with my friends, but was unable to walk given that I’d torn both of my quadriceps in an ungracefully dismount of the stairs in my North Berkeley house. While my legs mostly healed, the lesson not to run down stairs is one that I’ve held dear to this day.

Sometime back, while sitting in El Prat’s Terminal 1, waiting for a flight to Menorca, it appeared that I should add not running through airport terminals to the list of life’s no-no’s as well. While astute planning [and luck] had brought us from the center of Barcelona to the airport and past security, to our gate in a mere 40 minutes, another fellow was apparently running late.

Sprinting up the gate with a large satchel on his arm and a rolling suitcase behind him, he gave off the grace of a camel a full gallop. All it took was one minor infraction of physics to then trigger his left foot to catch on the granite floor. His right foot soon followed as then in slow motion his body started bending in half, crumbling in form and succumbing to the untamed forces of gravity. His arm with the satchel tried in vain to catch himself, but got caught in the strap and then he landed. Hard.

Like a sack of potatoes thrown upon a beach, he was down and not moving. Those near him started calling for a medic. A crowd gathered, mostly comprised of tourists and I swear I saw someone taking a photo that they will never look at upon returning home. All through this, the fallen traveler lay still.

The medics arrived and looked him over as he continued to lay face down. A small bit of blood seeped on to the floor from where his head had blessed it. Just as it seemed that fears of the worst had happened, he suddenly came to and sat up, shocking those gawking. The medic put a piece of gauze on what turned up to be a minor head wound despite all the blood.

Seemingly oblivious to the crowd that had gathered around him or the medics attending to his injuries, he started to stand up, gather his belongings and try to make it to his flight. At that same time, I had to board my plane as well (without running), so I’m not sure if he made his flight or not, but his determination was admirable, if not uncoordinated.