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.
3. Fear: HOLY SHIT!!! I'M ABOUT TO SLIDE OFF THE ROOF!!!
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.