The photo is from 1978. My son, his truck. Behind him, my truck.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Two Seconds

Monday, February 5, 1996

It all happens in less than two seconds.  Maybe one and a half seconds.  I'm checking out a leaky skylight.  At such a shallow pitch I can walk upright over the roll roofing.  A sheen of algae or something glistens on the wet surface when without warning I enter the 6 stages of construction panic:

1. Confusion: What is happening?
2. Realization: Oh.  I'm sliding down the roof, standing upright like I'm skiing.
4. Reaction: How do I stop?  Grab something?  There's nothing to grab.  Fall on my butt?  Before I can do anything there is
5. Luck: At the very edge of the roof, toes on the gutter, I stop.
6. Adrenaline: Too late, it hits.  Heart pounding, I stare at the concrete ten feet below, my next stop if the toes hadn't caught the gutter.

I have a friend, Norm, who's a roofer.  Norm's father was a roofer before him.  Norm says his father once slid off a roof standing up, exactly as I almost did.  His father landed upright on his feet.  He broke both ankles.  Worst thing was, he was working alone.  It was about 7 hours before anyone found him.

I was working alone.  It was over in less than two seconds.  I was lucky.  Very lucky.

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