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

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Heroism of Ladders

Wednesday, August 11, 1993

The contractor was driving the family van with his wife and three kids.  Carrier boxes on the rooftop were whistling, crammed with camping gear.

The Interstate was brutal through Seattle and stayed bad through Olympia.  Farther south it was less hectic, a four lane highway.  After a gas stop, the contractor accelerated to what seemed to be the consensus cruising speed of 70 miles per hour, a strain for the old van.  

Ahead in a gap of traffic he saw a ladder fall off a pickup, which never stopped. 

The car in front of the van swerved, crowding into the left lane.  The contractor swerved to the right onto the shoulder, stopped, turned on blinkers.  More cars coming.  He got out, a dangerous move.  

"Please be careful," came a voice from the van.  The sun was bright and there was a dusty highway smell.

Dashing into the road, he picked up the six-foot sturdy aluminum stepladder and set it against a chain link fence.

Was he genetically programmed for this?  Or was he trained?  Was it just that he couldn't stand to see a good ladder wrecked?  Without hesitation he'd put himself at risk. 

He turned off the blinkers, pulled back onto the highway, made it through Portland listening to Beatles tapes.  We do indeed live in a yellow submarine. 

For his own contracting business at home the contractor had graduated to fiberglass ladders — for safety — three of them with different lengths.

That night in central Oregon the family pitched their tents among Winnebagos at Schwartz Campground.  It was a friendly place, mostly RVs in a field next to a dam and an artificial lake.  The old folks were out on lawn chairs under the Milky Way watching a meteor shower.  With each meteorite, everybody let out a cheer. 

The family built a campfire of store-bought wood and lay on their backs under the spectacular sky, watching not with cheers but with wonder, something akin to worship, feeling like tiny pieces of an awesome natural design.

1 comment:

  1. What a great little story. I feel it needed a little more discrition of the surroundings but appart from that it was great!