Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
Two laptops in a backpack.
An electric escalator.
I arrived at SeaTac at around 5pm, but my flight wasn’t for another five and a half hours. The plan was simple. I was going to check-in my luggage and then go back into the city to meet a friend. Instead, I ended up bloody and pant-less in a family restroom. In retrospect, I could have prevented my near-limb-amputation if it wasn’t for the following key errors:
First mistake: Devising a simple plan. I should have just wheeled around my luggage all around the city. Not only would I have gotten a great workout, but I also would have been able to change outfits every hour on the hour, much like Cher.
Second mistake: The airline accepts your bags four hours prior to your flight time and I was an hour and a half early. This forced me to go downstairs and find “Ken’s Luggage Storage & Other Services,” where I entrusted a 350 pound man with a salt and pepper beard down to his gut with my chocolate-plaid Liz Claiborne bag. He did not laugh when I enquired about Barbie’s whereabouts, but I later learned that his name was in fact not Ken, making the joke fall flat.
Third mistake: My third and final mistake was thinking that I could walk up an escalator without falling. With now just a backpack strapped on to my body, I felt lighter and ready to proceed with my plan. I had outsmarted the airline, made a new friend not named Ken and looked particularly slim in my skinny jeans. My only regret was that I was wearing Nike sneakers with them and, although they were cute, I was contemplating switching into the flip-flops I had in my backpack. All of this went through my mind at the base of the electric escalator. The electric escalator that was turned off.
I have an incredible track record for falling (I keep on falling), so I’m not surprised this happened. It’s the way it happened, really, that dumbfounds me.
I began my ascent. First step, fine. Second step, sturdy. I looked down to an Alaska Air representative standing by the kiosk. She was an older woman with dyed blonde hair and tattooed eyebrows. As I was trying to discern if she was real or made of wax, I miscalculated the depth of my third step. That’s when I lost my balance.
I tried to grab on to the handrail, but it was too late, my left knee was heading down, straight onto the edge of what would’ve been my fourth step.
As I sat on the escalator, I wondered what the woman made of wax thought. One moment I was climbing, the other I had disappeared, much like her natural expression. Filled with embarrassment and fear that the escalator would somehow suddenly switch on, I jumped on my feet and ran up the rest of the way.
At the top, I noticed some seats reserved for disabled travelers before my eyes got teary. I hobbled over as fast as I could, as I felt I only had seconds before the pain would paralyze me.
Convinced I had either broken my knee and/or needed stitches from the blood stain slowly growing on the outside of my jeans, I mustered enough courage to roll up my pants to see the damage. I figured I could flag down two TSA agents standing nearby if I felt I needed medical attention. I also convinced myself to be quick about looking at the wound, as I have a tendency to faint at the sight of blood and deep cuts, particularly when it’s my own blood and yellow fatty tissue.
So, I cradled my leg between my arms, sat firmly in the center of the seat, in case I lost consciousness, and lifted my pant leg. Only I couldn’t roll them up. I couldn’t get the pant leg past my calf. It wouldn’t budge.
I quickly realized that if I flagged down help, they would have to rip my jeans. And considering their snug fit, they would require the Jaws of Life. I sat for a while. A long while. Sweating. In pain. Until I gathered the energy to return to Ken’s and pick up my bag. The bag, I just stored.
With the bag in hand, I made it to a family restroom, where I spent half and hour both stopping the bleeding and convincing myself that I was contracting Hepatitis from having an open wound in an airport bathroom.
Finally, the bleeding stopped. And I felt good about not having my jeans ripped, as they served as a very useful tourniquet.