Lame Adventure 131: Head Loading

I am continuing to recover from an excruciating lower backache I recently suffered as a result of taking a walk on the wild side via my bathroom where I adjusted my shower head, an action that has only impaired my ability to stand, sit, stair-climb and sleep, but mercifully, I still have the capacity to swear like a rapper, a skill I recommend honing, particularly when in agony and walking stiffly on the Upper West Side in a semi-incapacitated state.

During my stroll I was distracted from my pain by a guy walking ahead of me wearing a beret.  He also happened to be carrying a toaster oven box on his head.  Since his companion was carrying a shopping bag from Zabar’s, a store that also happens to sell toaster ovens, I was confident that there was an actual toaster oven in that box atop that guy’s head.  I also suspected that they were unable to find a parking space closer to Zabar’s.  As I watched Beret Man, this thought crossed my mind:

Me:  Hey Beret Man, you’re not in Nairobi.

One way to ensure that the beret stays put.

Since Beret Man’s head carrying was an effective means to keep my mind off my aching back, when I returned home, I was motivated to Google search Zabar’s toaster ovens.  Boxed, various name brands this upscale food and housewares emporium offers weigh on average 25 lbs for a De Longhi, 20 lbs for a Cuisinart and 10 lbs for a Black & Decker.  Then, my wandering mind wondered what does a regulation weight bowling ball weigh?  Apparently, no more than 16 lbs, and bowling balls seem like dense weight I would prefer to avoid carrying atop my head, even though it appears that a bowling ball weighs considerably less than Beret Man’s toaster oven.  With that in mind, I Googled the following:

How safe is it to carry objects on the head?

I originally considered Google searching, “How safe is it for a Westerner wearing a beret to carry a toaster oven on the head,” but I decided a more generic search might yield the answer I was seeking.

The answer came from an article aptly titled (at that moment in my life), “Head Case,” published in Slate last August during the flooding that ravaged Pakistan.  This was a terrible time when people were fleeing for their lives carrying massive loads on their heads.  Head-loading is safe, provided your body is equipped to do it:

“…researchers have found that people can carry loads of up to 20 percent of their own body weight without expending any extra energy beyond what they’d use by walking around unencumbered.”

The article continued:

“But don’t start stacking groceries [or toaster ovens] on your head just yet. The subjects in these studies began head-loading as children and had developed a peculiar gait that’s one-third more efficient than the one we’re likely to use.”

I highly doubt that Beret Man has developed that gait, and right now,  I’d rather have my slowly healing aching back than his compressed neck.  Next time, when fleeing Zabar’s with something big and bulky, break out the wallet again and invest $5 in taking a taxi to the car.

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