I say “ow” a lot, and most of the time other people laugh when I say it, and not because I have some funny accent or say it in an entertaining way. It’s normally because I’ve just concluded some act of mild to severe stupidity or experienced some unbelievable situation that defies all the common sense and rules of probability. I now present to you a small montage of “Ow” moments.
Movie Theater “Ow”
Several years ago I was on a date and we went to the movies. We were sitting through the previews, waiting for the movie to begin, when I realized that I had to use the bathroom. Unfortunately for me, the last preview just finished and the movie was just about to start. There were two options at this point:
Option A: Tough it out like a man and don’t miss any of the movie.
Option B: Run as fast as I can to the bathroom and miss as little of the movie as possible.
I looked at the huge thing of popcorn in my lap and then over to my enormous bottle of water and decided to go with Option B. The race was on.
Let’s talk about movie theater layout for a little bit. As you know, there are many rows of seats, and this particular theater was stadium seating so down each side of seats were stairs. Lining the stairs, of course, were small strips of lights so that you can find your way out of the theater during the darkness of the film. In front of the main seating section is a walkway, an area for people who have entered through the right door to walk across so that they may sit on the left side of the theater. In front of the walkway is a seating section that is lower than the main seating section, mostly for little kids who want to be as close to the screen as possible or for people who watch movies for a living and also want to live off of workers comp for a strained neck. There are stairs leading to this lower level as well. The thing about stairs is that they aren’t safe and need the car’s equivalent of a seatbelt: The Railing. There is a railing just below waist-high leading down the stairs into the lower seating area. This railing is centered on the stair case leading up to the normal seating area, as I have tried to show in the following picture:
The railing is black to ensure it is as unobtrusive as possible and nearly invisible with the lights turned out, that way the audience is totally immersed in the movie experience and totally unaware of the railing.
So, back to my decision to run as fast as I could down the main stairs in an effort to get to the bathroom. I took the stairs two at a time, building up some momentum. Half way down the stairs, the lights dimmed, signaling the beginning of the movie. I reached the bottom and got ready to turn the corner to leave the theater, but my momentum was such that I had to take about 10 feet in order to slow down and begin my turn. Too bad the railing was 5 feet from the bottom of the stairs. I’d like to refer you back to the diagram of the movie theater. The stick figure is drawn to scale in relation to the railing. Why is he a sad stick figure? Because look at where the railing hit the stick figure when he ran down the stairs in an effort to get to the bathroom. The stick figure crumpled, hitting the floor like a sack of wet flour. And so, we are presented with the scene of a teenage boy (me/stick figure) on a date, curled up on the ground, in the dark, groaning and wishing in his own mind that death would come just a little bit faster. I can’t accurately describe how much pain I was actually in, except to say that I was on the ground for about 10 minutes and my date wondered where I’d gone (remember, dark theater, nobody could see me curled up on the ground). An “ow” moment for sure.
After just purchasing a McDouble Crunch burger and a water I left McDonalds to head back to work. I was wearing my iPod headphones and sunglasses like any cool teenager, and after accidentally pulling on the door instead of pushing, managed to get the door open and leave. Turns out that my headphones weren’t ready to leave. The got closed in the door, meaning that halfway through my first step out of the restaurant my head was snapped back and my headphones were ripped violently out of my ears. I am such a cool teenager, I’m surprised that I don’t have a fan club by now.
Hand Crank Generator “Ow”
My physics teacher Junior year was kind of evil. I have to give him props though, he did write my recommendation letter to MIT so I pretty much owe him for life. He has this little generator that is, you guessed it, powered by a hand crank. He demonstrates current laws with it, using humans as his subjects. There are two metal handles that you grab which allows the current to flow through your body as he cranks the generator and laughs as your arms curl in and you lose all muscle control. We’d already demonstrated resistance, series circuits, and a couple of other things, but it was time for parallel circuits. To demonstrate this one he had everybody stand in a line, roll up their sleeves, and grab the elbows of the person in front of them, thus creating a giant parallel circuit. Guess who was at the front of the line! I was kind of unsure about it all, but I trusted my teacher and grabbed the handles. He started talking about how the current would be evenly distributed through all of us since were making a parallel circuit. He also mentioned that he’d have to crank the generator pretty hard in order for all of us to feel a decent amount of electricity. This was sounding less and less like fun, but I maintained my position in the front of the line. He started cranking the generator and I felt the current go through me, it didn’t feel good. He asked the class if they felt it yet and everybody said “No!” and he’s like “Alright, I’ll crank it harder!” and starts to crank faster. “Can you feel it yet?” “No!” *cranks faster* Turns out that something was wrong with our circuit and none of the current was making it past me. Everybody was thinking they were pretty tough, not feelin’ the electricity, while I’m shaking and have lost all control of my arms at the front of the line, about 10 seconds away from shouting obscenities the likes of which the earth has never heard. What a glorious day in physics. Ow.
I have a headache. It hurts. Ow. Why do I have a headache? For the last week I have been working on MIT’s Freshman Essay Evaluation, a writing placement test taken during the summer. It involved reading about 50 pages of material and then writing two essays. One essay was a piece of cake and I got it to the 1,500 word quote with no issues. The second essay was a pain in the butt. It was one of those things where you know that you’ve restated the same piece of evidence five times in the same paragraph but you just keep shoving more words into it in hopes that it’ll get better. It didn’t. I spent about 6 hours working on it yesterday and finished it at about 10:30 last night. They were due at 10:00 am this morning, meaning that I’d have two hours at work to do some final edits and get them ready for submission. This morning, before I submitted them, I decided to reread all the instructions to make sure I had done everything right. That was when I think I started to get my headache because I realized that what I thought was a 1,500 word quota for the first essay was actually a 1,250 word quota. All of a sudden I had to cut 250 words out of a beautifully worded and structured essay that I thought I was done with. Enter panic mode. I started hacking and chopping and summarizing, eventually bringing it down to 1,130 words. It’s not nearly as eloquent as it was, it’s kind of like a bad haircut at this point, but there wasn’t enough time to make it pretty again, so I had to submit it as it was. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t as nice as it was, which is frustrating. Now for my second essay, the one that had caused me so much grief the day before. Turns out that, after rereading it this morning, I had actually done a very nice job with it. I guess I was being hyper-critical of my writing when I was actually constructing it, but the end result was really quite a good read.
There you have it, 2 hours before my first MIT assignment is due, there is a total role-reversal of my two essays and a full-on panic moment for Michael. Not a good morning. Oh, and did I mention that the McDonald’s “Ow” was during lunch today? Didn’t help the headache at all.