There was a moment, way back in those heady days of 2011 or so, that I was walking from one place to another in the Lower Haight neighborhood of San Francisco. Unsure of my destination’s physical address, I unlocked my phone and pulled up the map application, and began typing the name of it into the search field, at which point I felt a solid “thud” against my nose and forehead. I looked up from my magical electronic navigation device to see a light post that I had walked straight into, because my focus had been on the magical electronic navigation device rather than, say, where I was actually going. I felt the wetness of blood forming streaks from my forehead, down my temple, and into the wells of my eye, and wondered, at first, if I might need stitches. I blotted the blood away as best I could, but just as soon as I would finish blotting, the wound would pump out more blood to replace it, and so I ended up just holding the paper towel over my right eye, to at least keep the blood out of the eye, itself.
At that point, I decided it was time to cut the shopping trip short, and return home to tend to my fresh wound. Changing course, I tried to flag every taxi I saw, but none of them were interested in picking up an actively-bleeding fare. A couple of them slowed down and pulled over, but once they caught a closer glimpse of my bloodied face, they’d pull away and leave me behind. The second one actually hit the auto-lock on his doors before doing so, a fact which was both audible and visible to me, since I had managed to get within about two feet of his cab. My legs still worked, so I kept walking towards home, and when I got there, I gained a better understanding of why it had been so difficult to hail a taxi; the right side of my face, neck, and t-shirt were absolutely covered in blood. I wouldn’t have picked me up if I was a driver, either, if for no better reason than not wanting to have to clean up my cab afterward.
For years, I’ve prided myself on having a better than average sense of “situational awareness”, yet here I was, covered in my own caking, dried blood, all because I had been looking at my handheld glass screen instead of the unmoving mass of steel and aluminum on the sidewalk in front of me. I cleaned myself up, slathered a large bandage in Neosporin, and vowed to never let something like that happen again. “Eyes up, real world shit,” from now on.