June 09, 2009

High and Hot

I enjoy my chosen vocation, aside from two things--having to climb up on top of things, and getting all hot and stinking from performing that task.

I have always been a bit unnerved by heights anyway, and now that I wear bifocals, it's worse. You glance out the bottom of your lenses and the world goes all blurry, and that's very disconcerting when you're on the edge of a roof.

And then there's this whole thing of having to climb that ladder--wobbly aluminum extension ladders, laid up against slick metal copings or fascias, and never with enough sticking out at the top to hang onto as you make that last step onto the roof.

Finally, let's face it--I am not feathery. Even though in my youth I was blessed with the stunning athletic grace of a young Junior Samples, age has slowed my reflexes somewhat, and I must admit I now have the supple elegance of a lard-filled barrel. And once you put a lard-filled barrel atop spindly aluminum spindles, well, it's just not good.

So--going up, bad. Coming down?

An order of magnitude more bad.

You've got that whole "can't see out the bottom of your glasses" thing, and the dizzying feeling you get when you're off the ground, and the shaky slidy ladder part of the equation, and then there's the certain knowledge that the laws of physics are trying their best to kill your blobby self. Maybe if I did this all day, every day, it might be better. I might get used to it, and be like one of those crazy Mohawk ironworkers who build skyscrapers.

Somehow, I doubt it.

Anyway, you get all through, and manage to get back to earth without dying, but you smell like you have.

It's late spring here in the sunny Southland, meaning it's already like Satan's own barbecue outside, and it's even hotter on top of a building, and even sweatier when you're losing fluids due to intense fear. And then you have to come back inside the building and have afternoon meetings with polite folk who don't sweat and stink in public. To top it off, I have to go to church tonight for our vacation Bible school, and be around other people who've gotten to go home and wash off the day's funk. Me? I'll have another five more hours of accretion of stinkbits before then.

Other than that, though, it's all good. And they pay me regularly, too. So file all this under observations, not complaints.

OH--and by the way, unrelated to anything above, Boy is now an officially sanctioned holder of a learner's permit. Oddly enough, he hasn't been pestering me to go drive, although this could be because of the time demands of the aforementioned vacation Bible school. Or it could be that he already knows everything.

6-10-09 AND--it's Mohawk ironworkers, not Navaho. Look, I have a hard enough time keeping the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee, and Creek straight as to who does what.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at June 9, 2009 02:19 PM

Two things: Progressive lenses. 1. A good deal on glasses is to be had at zinnioptical.com and 2. how in the heck did a kid who just got out of Tiger Cubs get a learner's permit?

Make that three things. I myself am not afraid of heights, but I have deeply held religious conviction that Almighty God made my two feet to be firmly set on solid ground.

Posted by: Larry Anderson at June 10, 2009 10:59 AM

They ARE progressives! I've gotten to where I like them (after a couple of months of headaches adjusting to them), except for those situations where I'm trying to judge distance downward. You have to hold your head way down so you get back into the far-vision part of the lens, which takes some getting used to, especially if you've got a hard hat on. And I got 'em at Walmart. And put the lenses in the pair of frames I had before. I know how to do cheap.

As for Boy, I don't know how he got so old. I know I haven't aged a bit.

And as for the ground/foot interface deal, I'd like nothing better than to maintain constant contact. I guess I missed the part in the course catalog at school that mentioned acrobatic skills were necessary.

Oh, and by the way--I got my nice khaki pants all nasty in the course of this, too. So there's that to have to fume about, as well.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at June 10, 2009 11:40 AM

The way you started this tale out, I was afraid that you'd hurt more than your pride.

But then there's that whole "Pride goeth before a fall" thing, so maybe you'll want to stay off the ladders for a while.

Posted by: Janis Gore at June 10, 2009 12:19 PM

Well, it turns out fear is a pretty good safety motivator. It also helps that I've made no secret to our maintenance guys that I do NOT like having to be off the ground, so they tend to be more helpful in the holding-onto-the-ladder-for-the-other-guy part than they might otherwise be.

Speaking of safety, I have been particularly influenced by the safety class I took in college, which used the OSHA Fatal Facts sheets to show what not to do. Nothing quite like gruesome and deadly construction accidents told in the most dry and matter-of-fact way to make you ponder what you're about to do next.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at June 10, 2009 12:41 PM

Another problem with the pesky bifocals- trying to work on cars, especially laying on one's back, looking up. I find it very troublesome so I'm trying to even less of it as I age.

As for the ladder/foot interface problem- I'm not completely comfortable around ladders and roof edges myself. So I sympathize.

Posted by: Nate at June 10, 2009 07:14 PM

Yep, I've noticed that, too. But with my old glasses, I couldn't see the markings on sockets and fuses and such, so I guess it's a wash. Of sorts.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at June 10, 2009 10:09 PM

Love love LOVE the fatal facts work sheets with the drawn to scale pictures of the expiration of human life. The perspective on the guy falling off the bridge is wonderful.

Plus that whole "union/non-union/collective bargaining" category captures everything you need to know about the priorities of faceless bureaucracy.

Posted by: skinnydan at June 11, 2009 03:36 PM

It was the line drawings that really sucked me in, too. Seems like it would be quite an interesting career choice--accident scene forensic sketch artist.

And as you note, one of the dangers of working in a bureaucracy is having your face snatched clean off--yet there's nothing covering that in any of the Fatal Facts. Very odd.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at June 11, 2009 04:08 PM

The six year old has bifocals. So far it hasn't stopped her from climbing everything and anything. Pity that.

Posted by: Jordana at June 11, 2009 04:41 PM

You better make sure she wears her fall restraint harness and hard hat and make sure she's trained in high work safety!

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at June 11, 2009 04:52 PM