24 August, 2009

How not to plunge to your death

When I was painting the outside of the house a couple of years ago, a second-story room whose windows and walls jut out of the roof on the back much bedeviled me. I tried climbing from the ladder onto the roof, but as soon as I stepped on the roof I stepped right back off. That slope terrifies me—it's approximately 45o I think, although it feels more like 60o—whereas wielding a paint pad on a pole from the safety of the ladder was cumbersome and did a terrible job. It's funny how heavy an twelve-foot aluminum pole feels when there's a paint pad on the other end. The poor job that inecitably resulted from this has frustrated me for all of those two years.

It finally occurred to me how to resolve the problem: pay someone else to do it. Ha! just kidding. No, I just realized that I could carry the paint and tools up the other side of the roof, whose slope starts shallow over a porch, then changes abruptly to the same slope as the back. The advantage of climbing the front is twofold: (1) if I should slide off then I would (hopefully) have time to recover over the porch; and (2) I can use a junction between two sections of the house and the chimney to reach the top, then scoot over the pinnacle to the room. The roof is nearly horizontal over the second-story room, so I can lay down there and paint with relative ease, as long as the heat from the sun and the shingles doesn't get to me.

I say that I can paint with relative ease. It's still unnerving to see one's wife and children on terra firma twenty to thirty feet below, pointing and smiling. It doesn't help when the three year-old daughter points, laughs, and exclaims, Папа дурак! (Papa is a fool!) Hmph. After that remark, she'd better hope I don't fall, since I subsequently wrote her out of the will.

After going up and down a few times on different days, I'm starting to get the hang of this. Indeed, I feel a kind of rush from it. Not that I'd want to do it for a living. To those who do so, my sincerest respect. Whatever they pay you, it isn't enough.

The bigger question is, why did it take me so long to figure out the solution? It wasn't that hard!

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