It's now been 10 days since my accident, and I've had a number of people contact me, offer their condolences, and on more than a few occasions, offer me suggestions as to how I could have been more safe under the circumstances. They range from abstaining from skateboarding to having various protective gear options in place. Truth be told, for many of the way that skateboards are made to be ridden, there are indeed very practical items of protection, many of them I wear in different circumstances.
A helmet is a given much of the time. Knee pads are a great choice if you are going to be skating a vert ramp or park features. Elbow pads may also be helpful. When I was a kid, thick padded leather gloves were all the rage, with big round leather disks in the palms. I haven't seen those in years, but I found them exceptionally useful when I used to street skate as a kid. There is even a pair of padded undershorts that you can buy (Pro-Tec makes them) that cover your hip bones and tail bone.
All of these pieces are great, but there's one piece missing from this "body armor"... there's nothing to protect the lower legs from the impact fracture I developed. Well, I shouldn't say there's nothing. I suppose I could skate with motorcycle racing boots. Now they would definitely have the stabilizing necessary to protect my bones. Only problem is, they are so bulky and inflexible I wouldn't be able to skate or maneuver with them. Most skateboarders have figured this out, and have accepted the fact that their Achilles Heel is, well, right around their Achilles Heel. In short, skateboarders have come to realize that, try as hard as they might, there really is no way to make their sport 100% safe.
As testers, we likewise have to realize there is no way that we, or the developers, can make our products 100% bug free or risk free. Like the skateboarder, we can mitigate risk as much as possible, but there are going to be areas where, just for the sake of movement and flexibility, we will accept a level of ambiguity and risk, knowing that the worst scenario could happen but is unlikely for most. It also means that when those perfect conditions line up, the odds are that anyone, no matter how well protected (or tested) will have a failure. It just happens sometimes. For me as a tester, that means that I need to be alert and aware of the fact that there are lots of possibilities that I may not be aware of, and that awareness is the quickest way to mitigate that risk and act upon it. In skateboarding, I can gear up and be cautious in the way that I ride. Either way, the responsibility is mine, and I have to be aware that, no matter what I do, there's always a chance that pain could be around the corner.
Of course, I could walk... but that doesn't erase all the risks, either, just those associated with skateboarding. We can have a chat about the safety risks of walking another time ;).