Don’t Tread on Me

Photo by Ryan Grewell on Unsplash

I’ve never liked escalators. I look at an escalator and I see big metal teeth waiting to grind up my feet. I have a problem with the last section, the one that goes under the metal strip at the end. I imagine myself being sucked down under like a cartoon character, getting smaller and flatter until I disappear under the edge with a quiet pop.

Elevators aren’t much better. Nothing good ever happens in an elevator in the movies. If the cable doesn’t break and all the characters plummet to their death, they’ll get stuck inside the car with the bad guy. Or, just when you think everyone is going to escape, the doors will make that little “ping” noise and open up to the serial killer standing there with an ax.

I used to think I was safe on a treadmill. It doesn’t go anywhere, and I always manage to hit the “Stop” button, mostly when I don’t intend to. Recently I discovered how accurate the phrase “ass over elbows” can be, and I can now answer “Yes!” to the question “Have you ever fallen off a treadmill?” Nothing broken, except my dignity, but how much of that can you really have while you’re wearing sweat pants?

I was moving along at a brisk pace when I decided to take off my jacket. I could have easily turned off the treadmill, but I was in the middle of a nice series of laps and didn’t want to lose my place. I like to imagine myself huffing along in the lead in a 5k run while being chased by bears. In that situation I would hardly stop to take off a jacket, unless I planned on using it to distract the bears. So, without looking I tossed my top behind me, toward my gear stacked on the floor.

My friend, trudging along on the next treadmill, cried out, “Oh! You knocked over your tea!”

Born and raised a Southerner, I take my iced tea seriously, even if it is in a flimsy foam cup sitting on the floor of a gym. So I immediately turned around on the treadmill to see the damage, and the machine rewarded me by trying to shoot me off the end like I was the target in a skeet shooting competition.

I fell back onto the treadmill. Luckily I landed on the part of my body that was the object of the treadmill exercise in the first place. The treadmill was still running, any other time I would have hit the safety switch by accident and had to start my program all over. The treadmill seemed thrilled to have me back. I swear the belt sped up, and this time I shot off and performed a half somersault, something I haven’t done voluntarily since third grade.

I landed in a cold puddle of foam bits, tea, and ice, not quite so refreshing when applied to the bottom half of my body. I finished my work out on the stationary bicycle, figuring that if I fell off I would at least be closer to the floor.

I’ve heard people say, “It’s not the destination that matters, it’s the journey”, and I’m okay with that, as long as I don’t have to get there by escalator, elevator, or treadmill.


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