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bouncing back from my fall

February 1, 2011

Thank you for your comments and concern about my fall.  I likely got more

attention than usual because of the recent publicity for “127 Hours”.  The

dizzy spells have dissipated, the bumps are debumping and the bruise is

getting smaller.  Now it looks like Prince Edward Island.

That is not my longest fall.  I quickly descended about 30 feet once when I

was painting the second floor of a house.  The owners had painted the easy

level.  I borrowed some scaffolding and a ladder and set to it.  It went well

until I got to the attic dormers on the final side.  I was too cheap to rent a

ladder long enough to safely reach them, so I put the ladder I had on the

scaffolding.  Dumb.  Ill-advised.  Willfully ignorant.  At best a premise for

a slapstick comedy bit.

It actually worked for awhile until I stretched to paint the highest peak.

The rig collapsed like Lehman Brothers.  Fortunately, the ladder pushed

over the scaffolding as it veered off.  I had time to position my hands and

feet for a four-point landing.  That became a five-pointer when I hit the

ground.  I deployed my face for additional weight distribution.

To top things off, literally, the paint can then fell on my head.  All this

happened in a town less than 100 miles from Buster Keaton’s birthplace.

I’ve felt a kinship to him ever since.

This is not the biggest three-second mistake I’ve ever made.  That took

place in Marine Corps boot camp when I said to my platoon sergeant

“perhaps the drill instructor is mistaken”.  I didn’t know at that point

that drill instructors have an infallibility comparable to the Pope’s.  I

don’t remember all that followed, but my fellow recruits told me that

choking was prominently involved.

Let’s put my plunge into perspective.  Adam Potter of Glasgow recently

fell 1000 feet and was found standing up, looking at a map.  He lost his

footing on the eastern slope of Sgurr Choinnich Mor near Ben Nevis.

Potter told BBC Scotland “my speed gathered pace rather quickly” and

“I was just wanting to stop, really.”  I love United Kingdom understatement.

He added that “there was no life flashing in front of my eyes.”  Same for me.

And if it doesn’t happen in a 1000-foot fall, I think I’ll stop losing my footing.

Too bad.  There were some days in the 60’s I wanted to relive.

  1. February 1, 2011 10:23 am

    Having had a few falls of my own, I can say that they do indeed hurt. Luckily, I was on the ground already when I fell, so I didn’t have far to go. I wouldn’t mind reliving some of the 70s…. just sayin….

  2. February 1, 2011 10:34 am

    Thank heavens there are no lasting ill effects…something about your story of falling off the ladder at 30 feet up makes my think of the song about “Why Paddy’s not at work today”…I think it’s actually titled “Dear Boss”.

    In fact, here’s the link to youtube!

    • February 1, 2011 8:45 pm

      I loved the song. Thank you. I’d heard the story told as a joke, but this was much more fun.

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