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My Roofscapade

This post is really hard for me to write because this is an embarrassing story. But I figure that you’ll enjoy it and that eventually I’ll be glad I recorded this escapade. Or, in true 21st century fashion, I could call it the roofscapade.

So last week, Rob needed some pie plates, and I needed a beverage shaker bottle. At Bed Bath & Beyond, I saw some stuck-on dial thermometers, and I bought two. I’d been wanting one on my office window and one on the kitchen sink window.

On Friday, I decided that today was the day I’d figure out how to get that thermometer on my own window. I can’t just pop out the screen and put it on because I can’t suction it to the top pane when the window is open, thus covering the top pane, and I can’t put it on the bottom pane when the window is open because then it won’t have room to slide past the screen.

On top of that, the ground in front of my window is uneven, so I can’t put a ladder beneath it–the easiest, most straight-forward way to access the outside of that window.

My only option is to climb up on the roof and stick it on from the outside.

Well, Rob worked Friday night, but that wasn’t gonna stop me. I’m not afraid of heights. I don’t need help to do something other people might think is risky. I’m not scared.

I get the ladder, prop it up against the house, and climb up, thermometer in hand and a paper towel with some Windex on it tucked in my pocket.

Our roof is really steep, so I decided to crab-walk across the roof so I’d have a low center of gravity. I get about 70% of the way to the window and I realize that my office window is just far enough away from the roof with nothing to hold onto that my little plan wouldn’t work.

So I crab-walk back to the ladder, at which point, I realize that I had set the ladder too steeply. Two fears overtake me at this point:

  1. Because the ladder is sticking up over the roof, I’m afraid that standing up tall enough to step over the ladder will make me lose my low center of gravity and I’ll go sliding off the roof.
  2. Because the ladder is so steep, I won’t be able to climb down; climbing over the ladder (if I don’t fall of the roof ala Fear #1) will send the ladder falling backwards.

I’m paralyzed. What the heck am I supposed to do?!

There’s no way I’m jumping off the roof. I’m in the middle of training for a half marathon, and I don’t want an injury to ruin this for me! I could sit there until I could get the neighbor’s or some passerby’s attention to come rearrange the ladder and then spot me. Or I could wait until Rob came home, but he wouldn’t be home until at least 11:30.

At this point, I believe I may have whimpered a bit.

I spent some time willing the neighbors to get thirsty and go to their sink and look out their kitchen window and see me. I prayed they’d go outside and check on their boxer, Evony, who, along with Rowdy, were watching me intently. Rowdy even got a bit worked up, pacing the deck below me and whimpering herself a bit.

I alternated between waving towards the neighbor’s kitchen window so they’d know I wasn’t just hanging out on the roof for funsies, and burying my face in my hands, sobbing.

Finally, I took a deep breath and weighed my options. Banish my (probably) irrational fears and climb down that ladder. Catch someone’s attention. Wait until Rob got home to rescue me. Jump off the roof.

None appealed to me, but I convinced myself enough that the ladder fears were myths to scoot from my perch on the corner of the roof back to the ladder—twice—so twice I crawled to the ladder, realized I was wrong, then crawled back to the spot I’d found on the corner of the house, the spot where I could sit most easily on our steep roof.

I peeked over the east eave, trying to spot the highest ground I could jump to. I tried to remember anything I’d heard about jumping off a building onto the ground without serious injury, but I was pretty sure that all I recalled was movie stunt crap.

I weighed my options again. I could stick it out on the roof until Rob came home. I would crab-walk over to the satellite dish, prop myself against it, and just hang out. That could work.

But I could not waste 6 full hours just sitting on the roof! I had work and relaxing to do and a puppy to feed. Besides, I’m not one to sit on my ass waiting to be rescued.

I resolved that jumping off would be the safest, considering the obvious dangers of the ladder. I decided to turn onto my stomach and slide as far off the roof as I could, getting my feet as close to the ground as possible, then pushing off the roof and hopefully avoid ruining the darn gutter, which was totally in my way.

It still took me several minutes to work up the courage to jump, then several more minutes to make sure my plan of attack was the best way to get down off the roof and avoid breaking a leg. Finally convinced, I turned over and slowly lowered myself, then pushed and landed! Rowdy was on me in an instant, licking my face and almost knocking me over.

I stood up and assessed myself. I only felt pain in the top of my feet, just in front of where my leg joins my foot. Not bad.

So, dear, reader, I survived this adventure without a single scratch. And I even learned a few things along the way.

  • A higher point of view knocks several degrees off of the angle of a ladder leaning against your house. Compensate for this while you’re on the ground or find yourself in my predicament.
  • No matter how independent or confident or self-sufficient you think you might be, don’t climb up onto a roof without someone else there.
  • If you’re taking a risk, you’d better be taking your cell phone. That’d have come in mighty handy when I was up on that roof.
  • (Rob, this one’s for you.) Who needs a stick-on thermometer anyhow. I have a smartphone that will tell me that, and there are two computers in this house that can also tell me how hot or cold it is out there. Not to mention the local radio station, KSMU, that reports the temperature every half-hour.

Oh, speaking of smartphones, I briefly considered taking mine with me up there, but I thought that was stupid. What if I drop it? If I keep it in my front pocket, it would limit my mobility because I wouldn’t be able to bend as much. Why do I need it any way? It would have saved me a lot of grief if I’d brought it. Still, I would have had to weigh which friend I could call who would give me the least grief or be the most understanding.

So… just in case I’m in a bind again, who wants to be my emergency life saver?


2 thoughts on “My Roofscapade

  1. Fips

    09 Sep on 2011 at 2:29

    Classic story! Being alone when ladders are involved is seriously the only time things can go wrong with them. At least you got away without injury.

    My dad once did something similar when we were living in an old house. It technically only had two liveable floors, plus an attic, but they all had high ceilings and at the apex it was probably pushing 40 foot. He’d gone up there with his wellingtons on, with a mind to readjust the TV aerial or check the pointing on the chimney stack or something, when it started raining. That made the slates around him all wet, so he dared not leave the top for fear of skittering down and being unceremoniously ejected onto the rock garden below. So after enduring the rain for a bit, he decided his best bet was to try to attract my mum’s attention (she was watching television on the ground floor).

    Fortunately she came to investigate after that second welly landed. I think my dad was at that stage starting to wonder what else he could throw that might bring some rescue. Probably another fifteen minutes and he’d have been shivering up there in the rain, all his clothes strewn across the garden 40 feet below!

  2. Daniel Hargett

    08 Sep on 2011 at 12:55

    I was wondering when I would get to hear this story! It was even better than I expected! I’m so proud you took charge and jumped off the roof!