Views from the Floor, Alt Title: I’ve Fallen and I will be up in a Minute, Just Relax.

I faint. I have since high school. I remember the first time that it happened. I was at my after school job at Radio Shack, standing in the back room. I took a big swig from my 20 oz Coke and it’s like it got caught in my throat. It was too much at once and it was trapped in my esophagus causing me pain.

The next thing you know, I’m on the floor coming to. I had passed out in front of the doorway and my manager saw me on the floor. I could hear him coming towards me and to this day I can still hear him shouting, “Hey, Hey, What’s going on?”

I had no idea what was going on. I didn’t know where I was, who I was. I don’t know what happens to other people when they faint but for me I go right into vivid, intense dreams that only add to my confusion when I wake up.

When I heard my manager yelling, I popped straight up. That’s probably not the best thing to do after passing out but I was scared. I envisioned my manager throwing something at me.

This was not that crazy of a thought. My manager, let’s call him Wendall, was probably kind of crazy. He was a born salesman. He was very short and slight. He had a mustache. He kind of looked like the monopoly man. Apparently he had a hateful, fat wife at home who was mean to him. He had a lot of anger inside.

He would talk to a customer very calmly and warmly and he would try to sell them a product. If it became clear that that person wasn’t going to buy anything he would start walking towards the door, scooting the customer out and in case his message wasn’t clear, he would pick up any empty boxes for the items on display that he went passed and he would throw them.

I’m not kidding. I’ve seen him do it multiple times.

He didn’t throw the boxes at the customer. He threw them near them. The whole time he would be steadily walking them out the door.

Paradoxically he would keep his voice light and cheery, still making conversation, still talking about products. He did this so calmly it was psychotic and the customers didn’t know what to think. “Is this man throwing boxes at me?” They must have wondered. “But he sounds so calm and polite. I must be misunderstanding this situation. I think I should leave.”

And they did leave and Wendall and I would be happy again. He was never, ever mean to me. Still it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility that he would run down the length of the store and kick me in the head or at least throw a box at me.

So I went to the doctor and they said I was having esophageal spasms that would temporarily cut off the oxygen to my brain. No big deal. He gave me a note to excuse me from aerobics. I’m sure he meant just for the day but I told the vice principal he meant forever and I got to leave my gym class and be a counselor’s aide instead.

So all’s well that ends well.

However this pissed off my aerobics teacher. She couldn’t figure out why a doctor would tell me not to exercise. I get where she was coming from. He wouldn’t. I lied. Well, really I just fudged the truth. What’s that called again? Oh yeah, lying.

Luckily no one else was worried about it. So I went on being a counselor’s aide. Still for the whole two and a half years that I was in high school after that, she would stop me in the hall and ask if I was alright very passive aggressively. I never blamed her. I had it coming.

So I wrote too much about that and I will quickly go through some of the other times that I have passed out, in some kind of order

  1. Passed out at another job; same thing too big of a drink of Coke. Apparently whatever I was vividly dreaming about was funny because I was lying on the floor laughing and everyone thought I was just being weird.
  2. Walked to my friends house in 100+ heat and then immediately walked from her house to a gas station and almost passed out but not quite. I lost my vision for a bit and everyone sounded far away. I kept hearing the clerk asking, “What’s she on? You can tell me. I’m cool.” And my friend kept saying that I was not on anything, and I wasn’t, but he didn’t believe her. (Incidently this was obviously heat stroke. I wasn’t drinking anything. So there goes the esophageal spasm theory.)
  3. I almost passed out at Old Navy. Some girl kept insisting I put my head between my legs.
  4. I passed out watching the movie The Descent. When that girl broke her leg and the bone was sticking out. (This time I was triggered by a panic attack.)
  5. I passed out one night when I got out of bed and was simply walking to the bathroom. That was a scary one. I don’t know what caused it.
  6. I passed out watching that episode of survivor when the old man ate too much beef during a reward lunch and then he couldn’t poop and he was just standing in the ocean trying to make bears but not being able to. For whatever reason that made me start thinking about my own mortality and that made me freak out. I knew I needed to lay down but I couldn’t stop pacing. I finally passed out while standing at the top of the stairs. Good spot. My husband tried to catch me and he did but then one of my cats must have thought he was hurting me so she jumped on his back sticking all four sets of claws in him and he ended up dropping me so I fell over the side of the stairs, landing on my knee and my head. So nothing important. This lead to more doctor visits. I went to a cardiologist and a neurologist. They both said I was fine. The neurologist explained it to me thusly, “Everyone has chemicals and hormones that’s levels change all the time. Most people aren’t even aware of these changes. For others these changes can make them pass out. No harm. Nothing can be done about it. As he put it, “Some people are tall, some have blue eyes, some pass out. You pass out.”
  7. I fainted on vacation in LA last April. I wrote a blog post about it. Try and find it. Look through everything and like it. Tell your friends.
  8. I almost passed out at home goods a few weeks ago. I knew the store had just opened. What I didn’t know is that it just opened that day and there were so many people and so much noise. I just couldn’t take it. Luckily, I was able to get out of there in time, sit in my car for a while to calm down and then got the hell out of there.

So those are just a few times that stand out. I have fainted more than that but, though horrifying for me at the time, they are not at all interesting. One time I passed out watching a Jimmy Stewart movie, “Mr. Smith goes to Washington” or something like that. I couldn’t tell you what that was about.

The triggers have switched a little over the years. I haven’t passed out from drinking Coke too quickly in years, then there was the heat stroke phase, now it’s usually an anxiety attack. Oh, I just remembered that I also pass out from pain but that’s probably more directly stemming from panic anyway.

I feel like over the years I have learned to control it a bit. I don’t pass out as often as I used to. It used to be that whenever that feeling came over me, I was as good as on the floor. Now, I can usually stop it before I completely lose consciousness. Not all the time. I really couldn’t help it in LA. That was by far the most embarrassing.


4 thoughts on “Views from the Floor, Alt Title: I’ve Fallen and I will be up in a Minute, Just Relax.”

  1. Wow. The way you wrote this was very entertaining. I was once again hooked from start to finish…however, the situation is serious and I’m sorry you have an esophagus spasms that cut the flow of oxygen to your brain…and fainting in different places is very dangerous and scary. Glad to know that you’ve been able to control it over the years. You must have a conversation with your cat though and tell them not to attack your husband when he’s catching you…


  2. Fainting sucks. I’ve done it twice in my life and I hope it never happens again.

    Both episodes occurred when I was pregnant and working at a fast food place at the mall. My mgr (who at the time I gave a very racist nickname, though honestly he kinda deserved it) was the kind of guy who believed in literally working his employees until they keeled over. He was there every day but Friday (which was a day of worship for him) from open to close. Nobody got meal breaks. If you asked for a bathroom break, you were given serious side eye from the dude.

    So..knowing this, when I found out I was pregnant with my son, I had my dr write a note saying I HAD to take breaks every so often to eat and put my feet up for a few minutes. My boss pretty much ignored that, just as he ignored my request to purchase my own squoshy mat to stand on at my register which I would bring with me and take home at the end of every shift. He said if I had one, the other cashiers would want one and it would just be a big headache.

    Anyway, he ignored my dr’s note and I would end up stuffing myself to the point of almost vomiting before my shift started in the hopes of making it all the way through my 8-10 hr shift. A couple of times, I didn’t make it. I passed out in front of customers and he acted like it was somehow my fault. One minute I’d be waiting on a customer, taking their order, the next thing I knew I was on the floor with the boss staring in my face, yelling at me.

    I will admit, I did use the whole “I’m pregnant” thing to my advantage though, whenever I could. On Black Friday, the boss had scheduled EVERYBODY to work open to close because we were supposed to be busy AF all damn day. He wanted ME to wear this costume that made me look like an oversized styrofoam cup. Or at least that’s what he told me two days before Thanksgiving. The dude lied. I ended up being stuffed behind the register and with all the employees AND the customers AND the heat turned on fucking high inside the mall, I was really feeling overwhelmed within an hour or so of clocking in. I told my boss I didn’t feel well, like I was going to throw up and needed to go home. He was pissy about it, but I got to leave. Two weeks before Christmas, a mgr from another store in the mall called and said I hadn’t had enough “holiday cheer” when I’d waited on her that morning. Fortunately the boss was out for some reason and there was only a pimply faced college kid asst mgr on duty. I told him I was exhausted from not sleeping and I felt like shit. He said I could either take a 15 min break to “compose myself” or I could go home. I said screw this, I’m going HOME. So I clocked out, went downstairs to Godiva and bought myself some peppermint truffles and enjoyed the fuck out of them before driving home.


  3. Laughed out loud at “I never blamed her. I had it coming.” So so funny. Also, I’m with you on Team Fainting. Mine’s a low blood pressure situation. The EMTs in my home town knew me quite well. My coworkers now know that if I stop talking to them and hang onto the wall to just give me a second and I’ll be back to the conversation in a minute or so.


  4. Fainting certainly gets you “remembered.” I’ve passed out twice. Once at a place where I volunteer. Passed out as I was walking out the door to get some fresh air after feeling light-headed. Fell against a stucco wall on the way down and the volunteer coordinator had to take me to the hospital for stitches in my scalp. Next time it was in the veterinarians office while weighing my dog. The vet, always one with a quip said, as I came around, “I can only treat you if you bark.”

    I know people still think, “oh yeah, that’s the guy that fainted” when I go back to those places.


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