So what exactly is a first world injury?

When I attended the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop last April, I had an injury in the hotel room. As I opened the heavy hotel curtain wielding the drapery pull rod, I bonked myself on the face.

It hurt, and I examined myself for welts wondering how I would explain to my fellow writers what happened. Then I imagined this scenario.

Excited to start another day of learning and laughter at the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop, Molly bounded out of bed and reached for the log attached to the curtain to unveil a glorious new day.


It was curtains for her consciousness as she sagged to the floor in a heap.

Meanwhile, Molly’s new friend Lee was pacing as the last shuttle bus was leaving in five minutes. ‘Where can Molly be? I bet she stayed in the bar for three hours after I went to bed and she’s nursing a hangover. I don’t think it would be wrong for me to go to the workshop without her; after all, I just met her. Why should I miss a lecture because of her irresponsibility?’

Alas even though Lee has many shallow qualities that drew her and Molly together as friends, her conscience prevailed and she reluctantly pushed the elevator ‘up’ button to investigate.

She knocked on the door and heard a groan. At first, she thought it confirmed her suspicion about Molly’s late evening revelry, but her mother instincts told her it could be an expression of pain.

She knew her new friend was klutzy from the moment they met when Molly ran to give her a hug, tripped and knocked her into a potted plant. It wouldn’t have been so nettlesome, but it was a cactus.

Lee panicked and called hotel security. “I need you to check on the person staying in room 635. I think she has a medical emergency.”

In a flash, a hotel official unlocked the door to find Molly lying in a puddle of humiliation with the imprint of the drapery pull rod on her forehead. Lee screamed, “Oh my God! It’s a First World Injury! Call 911!”

So what exactly is a First World Injury?


Photo courtesy Depositphotos_Copyright-Kzenon: used with permission

I found this definition in the Urban Dictionary:

“An injury most likely to occur in an advanced first world country due to the high standard of living. Example: Karma suffered a first world injury walking into a dumpster while tweeting on her smart phone.”

I began to chronicle my traumas in the context of privileged circumstances.

• Applied hypoallergenic mascara, missed lashes and injured eye.
• Thumbed through a Pottery Barn catalog and incurred paper cut.
• Fell off spin bike and sprained ankle.
• Waved hand over steam vent of rice cooker and sustained burn.
• Fished lipstick out from under front seat of car and wrenched shoulder.
• Chopped shallots for Steak Diane and cut fingernail.
• Pulled an excessively dry cork from a wine bottle and bruised nose.
• Slipped with the box cutter when unpacking mailorder French roast coffee and scratched arm.
• Poked a touch screen repeatedly and developed tendonitis of index finger.
• Hopped on a hammock, flipped onto ground and scraped elbow.
Ate microwave popcorn and broke tooth. While watching Netflix.
• Opened dishwasher and bruised shin.
• Failed to reapply #50 sunscreen and exposed unprotected skin to sun. While waiting in line at Disney World. Because I ran out of Fast Passes.

I know I should feel irritated about these boo-boos spawned from a first world lifestyle, but instead I find myself with a strange sense of gratitude, realizing these are small prices to pay for a luxurious existence.

How about you? Have you ever thumped yourself with a hotel pull rod? Have you cut your lip while gnawing on crispy peasant bread dipped in extra virgin olive oil while living the life of the upper crust? Are you thankful for these mishaps?



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26 thoughts on “So what exactly is a first world injury?

  1. Yes, I agree entirely! I love a good first world problem, & they should fill us with a sense of gratitude. I also think we should here more imaginary adventures of Molly & Lee!

  2. I think you and Lee should start an adventure (misadventure) series. Kind of like a Cagney and Lacey, but hilarity instead of crime. I’d tune in weekly!

  3. Hello Dear Kindred Spirit. I had absolutely NO idea you bonked your head at Erma. None. You handled it beautifully.
    Now I must tell you about the time I bought a ring for myself at the local Christmas craft fair. Uh huh. Lovely silver number. Lovingly slipped it on my finger. While driving home I shook my hand in an effort to see if it was the right size, as one does while driving … It shot off and plonked itself nicely between the seat and the console. Naturally I shoved my hand down into the weensy space to retrieve it. My hand got stuck. Once home, I managed to yank it out. Had to go to the Honda dealership to get the seat taken out of the car in order to get the ring. Hand swollen for a few days after. Yup. First world problems indeed.

    • You made me chuckle Kelly! Indeed we are kindred spirits my dear because I can totally see myself doing something like that. Glad you got your ring back, I think it probably fit just fine with all the swelling in your hand. hahaha!

  4. Your topics are right up my alley, Molly! Hilarious! Ps. Speaking of alley…. Did I tell you how I am always hurting my fingers bowling? I can’t believe I’m still “forced” to bowl weekly on a Midlife Fun League.

    • That sounds like a first world injury if I ever heard of one, Stephanie. The good news is you are not hurting your toes while bowling which is probably what I would do from dropping the ball on my way to the lane. Steel toed shoes for me please!

  5. Another good one, Molly! The opportunities for first-world injuries are limitless–yet another benefit (?) of our luxurious existence. Why, just last night I bit the inside of my cheek while chowing down on artisanal vegan nachos. I’m not only grateful to have had these scrumptious morsels–served to me by someone else, no less–but that at my advanced age I still have teeth with which to bite myself.

    • Hahaha! Your comment made me laugh, Roxanne. Hard to be hip eating hip nachos with blood dripping from your mouth. I hope it wasn’t a family restaurant as I can imagine a child looking up at you with blood on your teeth and screaming something about vampires being real! Like you, I am extremely grateful to have my teeth. 🙂

  6. Can’t stop laughing – that’s me too!!!!! Sometimes, I laugh loud at myself, when I am all alone, at the ridiculous things I do that incur silly injuries. But I was so sure it was just me. Now I know I am not alone. I have lost count of the times I poked myself in the eye with the mascara wand (usually when I am getting ready for someone’s wedding and need to look reasonably human!) This post is so funny.

    • Thank you so much Gilly. I’m glad I made you laugh! I do find my antics to be quite entertaining and so glad others can relate and laugh too. Don’t you love showing up at a special event with a blood shot eye framed with lovely lashes?

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