Karma — in the sense of the spiritual principle of cause and effect, and not the flash-in-the-pan Kenyan celeb from a decade ago — can be a spiteful nightmare, and I have the bruises to prove it.
For many years, I have cheered on gleefully when I’ve seen the traffic police pull over a motorist for clutching onto their mobile phone with one hand or sandwiching it between ear and shoulder as they drive. I have lectured friends and made foes of a few people after I tore a strip off them for being on the phone instead of concentrating on the road.
Of course, the imperfect being that I am, I have once or twice handled my phone while driving, but of course I was never caught (and in the manner of a politician caught off-side, I will gruffly brush that hypocrisy off and leave it as a story for another day).
While the reason for my cursing of karma is to do with a mobile phone, I wasn’t driving a car and there were no cops to arrest me, but I know for sure had I watched it happen to someone else, I would have tried very hard not to laugh or be judgmental, and failed miserably.
Without beating about the bush for too much longer, the other day I paid a visit to the toney Constantia Village shopping centre (this most upmarket of Cape Town’s neighbourhoods would never allow the crassness of a common shopping mall to blemish it’s leafy suburban air) when I missed a step and fell facedown into the car park.
This unfortunate accident, in which I twisted my ankle and hurt my shoulder as I attempted to break my fall, would never have happened if I hadn’t been texting while walking. Let me just say here that what little dignity I may have had, cast aside as I let out a string of rapid-fire curses (and not a little blasphemy) between mid-air and the ground.
Looking back, it’s amazing how these incidents appear to have been in slow-motion, even though it all happened in the split second it takes to put one foot ahead of the other and misjudge the distance to the ground.
No longer a sprightly youth, I couldn’t get up quickly and try to appear as if nothing much had happened. Instead I spent nearly a whole minute patting myself down to check that nothing was broken other than my cell phone screen. The latter was handed to me by a passing workman, while trying not to smirk at the sight of a middle-aged man sprawled on the ground and trying to salvage the smashed-up remains of whatever decorum he may have once had.
I am generally recovered from my injuries. However, until my ego heals, I will not be revisiting that shopping centre.
Meanwhile, I will never again text while walking, and if I ever have enough money to give away to scientific research, it will be to help invent a collision avoidance system chip that can be embedded in the human body and somehow connected to a pair of spectacles smartphone so that nobody ever has to fall as I did — unless it’s for a joke.