I’ve always felt that self-deprecating jokes are the best. Not only are they hilarious, but they make you humble yourself, letting other people see you as more approachable.
My self-deprecating joke spans an entire day of my life. I used to tell this story all the time to incoming college freshmen, who would tell me if I could live through this, they could do anything.
All of this is completely true. There are multiple eyewitnesses. Which made it all the worse that day.
It happened when I was a freshman at Ball State. One day, I was walking down the stairs in my dorm and texting, an efficient use of time to an 18-year-old.
As I looked down at my phone, I took too big of a step and missed the next stair, falling to my death.
Instead, I landed with my full weight on the side of my ankle with my foot rolled in. It was badly sprained, I would later find out.
I sat on the landing in the stairwell and watched my ankle swell up as big as a softball. I didn’t know what to do, since I’ve never sprained my ankle before, and I thought I had broken it.
Just then, someone who I graduated high school with came down the stairs and asked if I was OK.
I had one of those moments where as soon as someone asks me that, I burst out in tears. Embarrassed, I said I would appreciate if he would tell the front desk, but if he was going to class, I didn’t want to make him late.
I’ll never forget what he said.
“I actually am going to class.”
And he walked away without another word. Another girl came down the stairs and helped me, though, letting the front desk know I couldn’t walk and bringing up a wheelchair and ice for me.
Determined to not miss my class I was going to, I wheeled to a room downstairs, where the professor then remarked that I was “finally” there.
That made me feel great.
After class, I got the appropriate response from a few of my friends, asking me if I was OK and what happened. One of them said he was on his way to the campus health center, and asked me if I wanted a ride.
Me, being not proficient in travelling via wheelchair, accepted. He told me to wait out front by the road and he would pick me up.
I waited for 20 minutes before someone else came out of the dorm, asked me what I was doing, and without asking, started wheeling me to the health center themselves.
It was weird, but I appreciated it. I saw the guy who offered me a ride later on in the week, and he said he had forgotten about me.
When I got to the health center, they immediately shuttled me to an off-campus clinic to get an X-ray, since there was a good chance I had been sitting around with a broken ankle for a couple of hours.
Confused, exhausted and mortified, I wheeled into the clinic and had my X-ray, then went to the office to process my insurance.
The woman at the front thought this to be the prime time to tell a joke, and happily said, “That will be $2,000.”
Being stupid and young and not knowledgeable about insurance, I didn’t know what to say, until she laughed, threw her hands up and said, “Just kidding!”
Later, I would find out that it wasn’t broken, but I did have a grade three sprain, where the tendon connecting your leg to your foot snaps completely in half. It healed up fine, though.
I look back on that day and laugh, now.
The rest of college, and kind of every day since then, was a breeze compared to that day.