"The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep."

Monday, June 11, 2007

Ladders - Satan's Minions

Last week’s TNT training schedule was light. Only 14 miles were scheduled for the entire week, leaving me feeling as if I didn’t do enough. But that will soon change and as it does, I’m confident I’ll change with it.

Feeling confident and knowing what you’re capable of is vital I think. But equally important is acknowledging your limitations. This weekend I was reminded of one of mine – ladders.

Aside from flying, which for some reason has never bothered me, I’ve never been good with heights – which for me encompass altitudes greater than my own. But I’ve noticed, as I’ve aged, my phobia has significantly increased. Where there was a time, when purely out of necessity, I might suck it up, ascend the foreboding metal rungs and actually step onto a roof, I now lock up once passing the 6 foot mark, i.e., the altitude equal to my own.

Such was the case yesterday.

When our home was built (long before we moved there), a condensation drain line for the upstairs air conditioning unit was routed through the soffet where it remained suspended two stories above the deck. Strategically aligned beneath said drain line is a metal vent hood which serves as an exhaust for the microwave oven located in the kitchen.

Six to seven months after we occupied our new dwelling, the laws of nature required the AC to begin functioning as designed as the heat of summer grew increasingly oppressive and as it did so, the aforementioned condensation drain began to come into play.

Soon, we were subjected to the continuous DRIP … DRIP … DRIP of water hitting the exhaust vent and reverberating through the length of the duct work which runs inside the ceiling of the kitchen to the opposing wall. As time went on, this incessant DRIP … DRIP … DRIP began to take on the characteristics of the infamous Chinese water torture we all learned of while watching old Foo Man Chu movies as kids. It’s effect on Beth and I was profound as periodically she would menacingly clutch a carving knife while I stared straight ahead, repeating my name, rank and serial number.

In addition to the obvious psychological trauma caused by this insidious intrusion into our lives, after a while, the vent hood began to oxidize and in doing so, took on that attractive patina of reddish brown which is oh so popular these days. Not content with only a colorized vent, the ensuing splashes spread this antiquing hue onto the brick as well as the white siding of the upstairs bathroom window enclosure.

And just for good measure, the resulting puddle of water on the deck produced a nice slippery algae covered spot which really complimented the whole feng shui concept we had going.

Something had to be done.

So after careful consideration, a trip to Lowes was planned and executed and soon I returned home with the following components:

·one ¾”, 45 degree PVC elbow (this was subsequently replaced by a 90 degree elbow which required a second trip to Lowes)
·one 10ft length of ¾” PVC pipe
·one can of PVC adhesive
·and one tube of caulk

Fetching the ladder from the garage, I carried it to the back of the house and up to the deck where I extended it to near maximum length and leaned it against the brick exterior of the house. Then, standing on the deck and gazing upward I thought, “That doesn’t look so high” and proceeded to place my foot upon the first rung, intent on overcoming my fear.

Six rungs later, I became convinced the ladder was possessed by demons intent on ejecting me and sending me flying to my untimely demise onto the lower deck some 20 feet below.

My heart began to race and my knees began to shake. Large beads of sweat began to drip from my brow and my hands assumed a death grip on the evil aluminum structure. Looking upward, the drain pipe gazed back, mocking me with its single orifice, beckoning me to continue upward so as to maximize the height from which I was surely doomed to fall.

Turning my eyes downward revealed the ground below racing further and further away, taking on the appearance of an endless abyss which awaited its opportunity to swallow me whole and deliver me into the very pits of hell.

My head began to spin. My vision blurred. I began to hear voices.

It was Beth.

“Tim, you’re only six rungs up you big baby! Get down here!”

Beth is only 5’ 2” but somehow managed to reach up into the sky and take hold of my ankle. The reassuring touch of her hand settled me enough to descend from my alpine like peak of sure doom and gradually make my way back down to the safety of the deck below.

“You idiot, I’m calling Morgan,” she said.

Morgan, a Navy Seabee is my brother-in-law and has been known to leisurely stroll along a three story roof truss while doing the Hustle.

With the help of an inexpensive, yet reasonably good Pinot Grigio, I was nearly recovered from my near death experience by the time he arrived and was therefore able to hold the ladder while he quickly ascended into the clouds and affixed the PVC elbow and pipe to the drain. Quickly climbing back down, he relocated the ladder several feet to the left, re-climbed and cut a hole into the downspout, inserted the other end of the pipe and applied the proper amount of caulk thereby completing in a matter of minutes what was for me, an impossible task.

With the arduous mission now accomplished and I sufficiently medicated, we sat down while Beth extracted a couple of burgers from the grill for Morgan as payment for his heroic services.

And like the Lone Ranger of yesteryear, when he was done eating, he bid us a fond farewell and gallantly rode off into the sunset.

Thank you Morgan, I’m quite sure I owe you my life.

“Do what you fear and fear disappears – unless you’re afraid of heights and happen to be on a ladder.” - Tim


Bill Lawfield said...

Better safe than sorry. You probably don't bounce well. And if you hit your head, the part in your hair would just not look right at all.

Amy said...

Glad you posted the pic...

You are such a great story teller! Keep them coming!

Beth said...

ok.....1) I did not call him an idiot and 2) I did not call him a big baby........I may however have said something about a weenie. I will confirm his fear of heights, as last year I thought that I would have to call the fire dept. when he got stuck on the garage roof. No more ladders, dear. Leave it to me. :)

Tim said...

Ok - I occasionally take a degree of artistic license in relating events so Beth did not call me an idiot, big baby or any other name which may be construed as derogatory.

She may have thought it but she didn't say it.

She did however call Morgan (thank God).

And just for the record, the garage she speaks of is clearly taller than me.