I took my first job doing archaeology ages ago, we were conducting archaeological sensitivity testing on three national guard bases - basically digging a lot of holes in the mosquito infested woods. We began by working out in the open at Camp Rell, which is situated on a beautiful flat promontory abutting the sea, in other words prime real estate for Native American habitation. Unfortunately this meant that it was also the perfect place for the parade ground. We laid out a grid and started digging regular holes on the parade ground. Our pits were 50 cm square and more then a meter deep. Despite trying to carefully replace the grass - it always dehydrated and died, resulting in these unsightly patches of dead grass at regular 20 meter intervals across the parade ground. Now if you really want to piss of a grounds keeper -- kill his grass. I swear I still have visions of Bill Murray when I think of this guy. He would wait for us to leave and then break out the HUGE tractor pulled mower and mow down all our stakes that we used to mark out our grid.
It was because of this that I didn't see the open hole. I was walking along with two others flanking each side of me. In my own defense - no one else mentioned the gaping hole in the ground either. I stepped out with my left foot and suddenly there was no ground... Amazingly quickly this produced a SPLAT, and there I was. A perfect face-plant: one leg was dangling free in the hole, three other limbs splayed out all around me and I had a mouthful of grass. The moment couldn't have been a more perfect comic strip panel if I'd planned it. To add insult to injury - the oddity of having the parade ground dug up had attracted an constant audience for us. So, as I managed to extract the grass from my teeth I also noticed the line up of soldiers doubled over in hysterics. Lucky me.
The same parade ground claims another victim.. (Oh wait, the same victim. Surprised? Probably not.) I had just finished digging and drawing the soil profile for the latest test pit, and we were about to fill it in. I realized just in time that I'd dropped my tape measure in the bottom of the pit and needed to retrieve it. Unfortunately, this particular pit was over a meter deep. I did not ponder this little maneuver long. I just grabbed a handful of grass with one hand and leaned in the pit with the other. Now I WAS thinner then but grass is not much of a lifeline, even if it is well manicured grass. Of course the clod just ripped out and I went headfirst into the pit, with one arm in front of me and one pinned to my side. I was unable to exit this position. I just love to imagine what this must have looked like at the time - two legs sticking out of the top of a pit and waggling as fait cries of "Shit, I'm stuck!" and "Get me out of here!" could be faintly heard to the surface dwellers.
Someone whom shall remain unnamed had to grab me by the belt and bodily haul me out of the hole, asking,
"What the hell did you do?"
Talk about embarrassing (I had a slight crush on this guy too, which basically means I'd make an ass of myself constantly around him).
Just to bring this point home the next summer we were both doing geology field school. We were going to be climbing around a lot of really steep drop offs trying to work out the geology. The aforementioned gentleman looks right at me and said, "Please try not to fall down anywhere life threatening." Mental head slap.
I seem to have a knack for embarrassing spills, but I usually manage to control my spastic behavior when it might have the potential to actually kill me. Instead we were walking down a forest path - a nice, wide path clear of both roots and rocks. That is the moment I went ass over teakettle. Yep, green backpack went one way, clipboard another way, limbs akimbo - I suddenly found myself looking at the sky.
After picking up my backpack, my clipboard and peeling me off the path, he simply asked "What exactly did you trip over?"
"Ow, I have no idea..." I mumbled.
Perhaps this is life just keeping me humble, or just giving the rest of world an excuse for some hilarity. I'm always good for a bit of that.