"I fell down the stairs in public and no one cared."

So a few days ago a thing happened.

A thing that, if I’m honest, happens to me a lot, because I’m a very clumsy person and I often forget how to walk.

(It’s hard sometimes, OK?)

When leaving my apartment building one particularly drizzly morning, I slipped down the stairs and fell, flat on my back. Very hard and very loudly.

In fact I’m pretty sure my bum slapping against the wet ground made the entire building shake, and the sound of my keys flying out of my bag and onto the ground literally echoed.

I also momentarily transformed into a velociraptor, letting out a very strange sound I wasn’t aware I was capable of making.

It me via GIPHY 

I know it sounds dramatic, but I’m sure you’ll know the feeling you get when you have a particularly large fall.

The very moment you start to realise gravity is working against you, your breath shortens and you immediately start to panic, as though every part of your brain and body is shouting “SHE’S GOING DOWN”.

…Then your entire life flashes before your eyes and you’re convinced it’s all about to be over.


(Okay, very dramatic).

After managing to stand up, scrambling to collect the contents of my handbag, I hobbled back inside, deciding to avoid the dangers of the outside world and work from home that day. It was not safe for me out there.


As it turns out, I was totally fine and walked away pretty much unscathed apart from some gnarly bruising to my lower back, bum and dignity.

While I by no means needed “rescuing” from my tumble, one thing struck me: there were people around who just…ignored it.

There were doors open to surrounding apartments, people wandering in and out to the street or walking by, people having breakfast on their balconies (who would have had a birds eye view of the entire humiliating moment), all seemingly unfazed by the fact that a velociraptor/human might’ve just, you know, slipped and almost seriously injured themselves.

One guy taking his rubbish out who witnessed the fall just kinda…looked at me, then…disappeared.

Bye via GIPHY

I know, I know, it was only a very minor incident, but I couldn’t help but be reminded of the ‘bystander effect’ – a social phenomenon whereby people don’t offer to help someone in danger when other individuals are present, commonly exemplified by the story of Kitty Genovese’s murder in 1964.

Kitty lived in New York City, and was stabbed to death in front of her apartment building, while almost 40 people saw or heard and no one intervened.

The details of Kitty’s attack are often shared as a prime example of the bystander effect, which psychologists say happens for several reasons, including uncertainty about the seriousness of the event, perceived differences between the victim and a potential helper, and diffusion of responsibility.


It’s an interesting topic, considering how people react when they witness someone else in danger, and it often leads us to speculate how we would react ourselves at a time like this.

I can recall times where I’ve seen someone fall on the street from afar, where other people close by have immediately stopped to help them. In these situations I’ve thought it best not to overcrowd and have walked away.

But if I’d been the first to witness, or the only person on the street? Well, I’d like to think I’d at least attempt to help them up and ask if they were okay.

I’d like to think I would.

The fact is, if you’ve never actually been there, how can you really know what you’d do?

We can’t blame the people who stand in the street, because the fact is, we don’t always know what the best thing to do in these situations is. Situations we didn’t ask to be part of.

I don’t hold any ill-feeling towards the man taking his rubbish out who thought “nah” when he saw me fall.

I don’t really know what he could have done apart from try to catch me, which would have just been extremely embarrassing for both of us.

Maybe I just look like someone who falls over a lot and always manages to escape with nothing but a few bruises, so he knew I’d be fine.

Who knows ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ .