Cheating death: my favorite sport

It seems to me that there really must be a God or something. I have recounted several stories over the last couple of years where I did something so monumentally stupid that it would and should have been ruled suicide, except I lived (thus proving the existence of God. There has to be someone out there keeping me alive even though I clearly want to die, right? Stupid God and his stupid keeping me alive all the time!). Today is more of the same.

Imagine, if you can, a ladder leaning against a wall (come on imagine it). Now imagine standing on that ladder about ten feet up. Then imagine that while you are facing one wall you have to work on a device that is not only on the left side of the ladder but, also a couple of feet behind you. I would have loved to have leaned the ladder against what I was working on, but I had to pull a portion of the thing out which required that I have at least 8 inches of space between the ladder and the device. Can’t get that kind of space when the ladder is actually leaning against what I am trying to pull out. I’ll just say that it is always an awkward position to be in (since I do have to remove the same piece several times every year).

So ten feet in the air, reaching a couple of feet behind me with my left arm, turned sideways on the ladder, the damn thing got stuck and I couldn’t break it free. I shook at it vigorously with both hands, still ten feet in the air, still on the ladder. I finally got it loose, but it weighed a lot more than it usually does; normally it goes four or five pounds, this time it was at least 35 or 40 pounds. No matter, it was removed. The problem was that while I normally leave the thing on a board near the ladder while I do the repairs, that action requires me to fully extend my left arm and lift it above shoulder level, while holding the heavy piece and actually leaning back, all while on the ladder. I didn’t sit down with a pen and paper to do any calculations, but I am pretty sure that the 40 pound weight, leaning back on the ladder, and the fact that my other hand would also not be secured to anything would have likely resulted in me falling. Instead I lowered the thing to the ground, one ladder rung at a time.

The reaper went quickly. In fact the actual repair took far less time than getting to the part that needed repaired in the first place. But I still had to put that damn piece back in…

Now I know that 35 or 40 pounds isn’t much of a burden, even as awkward and cumbersome as this one is shaped, but it is damn tough to get the thing up a ladder and back into place when that place is two feet behind you on the left. Also, the thing is over two feet wide and just under three feet tall, and it has to go in bottom first. There is simply no way to do it without letting go of the ladder completely and leaning back a little (which was fine back when the thing only weighed five pounds), which is some scary shit. It turns out that when I try to extend my left arm completely, and try to lift a 40 pound load to above the shoulder, I am just not capable of doing it. The object was resting against the wall (the wall that the ladder was leaning against) which kept me from using my right hand to help move it, since the right arm would have had to go behind the ladder to do so; one arm on each side of the ladder (straddling it) is not going to give me the distance to put the thing in place. So I used a leg instead.

Ten feet in the air, sideways, on a ladder, I used me left leg to try to help me hold the thing up, all the while using my left arm to try to get it two feet behind me (well to my left side at this point since I was actually standing sideways on the ladder). I got the left side to the correct position, but my leg couldn’t force the right side of it up, so I had let go of the ladder with my right hand to lift that side. Yeah, ten feet up a ladder, holding a load with my left and right hands, as well as my left leg, while standing sideways on that narrow rung, what could possibly go wrong?

Sure lots of things could have gone wrong, but the only thing that did go wrong was that I lost hold of the right side and it started to fall. That shouldn’t have been such a bad thing, since my leg was still holding it up and all. Problem was that the thing was no longer touching my leg. That meant that it was going to swing like a pendulum, hit my leg and knock me clean off the ladder (that damn inertia!). Second possibility was that, since it was already in place on the left side, it was going to fall straight back into me and knock me off the ladder (that damn inertia!). I had to stop it from falling, which I did. Unfortunately, since it had just slipped from my hand, and since I was on the ladder, which doesn’t lend itself to evasive movement with the legs, I had to stop it with the only thing I had available: My own flesh.

Thankfully all of this happened in a fraction of a second. I say thankfully because that meant it hadn’t picked up much momentum yet. All I could do was tense the muscles in my right arm and hope that the jagged, rusted corner didn’t cut too deep when it hit. Ouch.

It fell about four inches before I got my arm into it. This is evidenced by the wonderful cut on the inside of my right arm. The cut is only about an inch and a half long, going from barely a scratch at the beginning to fairly deep at the end. It bled like you wouldn’t believe. I immediately put alcohol on the wound, that was a rusty piece of metal that cut me after all. It took almost two hours to get the deepest part of the wound to stop bleeding, that was long after the majority of it had scabbed over. I did get the damn piece back where it went though!

Let this be a lesson to me: Quit standing ten feet up on ladders, with no hands and only one foot, turned sideways, lifting 40 pounds, and trying to place it behind you. It is probably bad news.
That was my experience, YMMV.

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