So there was this huge clatter when the ladder fell off the roof, and then a sliding sound as I went down after it.
But let me begin at the beginning.
The light bulb was out in one of the two gooseneck fixtures lighting the sign over my antiques store. Instead of reading “Elsie Bell’s,” it only read “Bell’s.” That would not do.
Now a sane person, especially a sane person who receives the AARP’s magazine, would not use a tall ladder to climb onto the roof of the carport, dragging a shorter ladder to climb onto the really tall roof. A sane person would not drag the shorter ladder across the really tall roof, hoist it over the front of the building onto barrel tile slick with dew and step onto it. A sane person would not then crawl hand-over-hand across the front of the building to the fixtures, swap out the lightbulbs and then do everything in reverse.
Evidently, I am not a sane person. Plus, this is how Mark and I have always done it. For safety, he ties a skinny little rope around my waist just before I go over the sign wall.
Besides, this week our Navy son Brad (the F-18 fighter pilot) was in town with his family, and we were all heading to Universal Studios for their extra-special Harry Potter weekend just as soon as this bulb was fixed. So, Brad was going to hold the rope.
The Navy man expressed his doubts as I hoisted a ladder over my shoulder and began scaling the first ladder. He raised an eyebrow when I asked if he knew how to tie a good knot. And he really didn’t like the positioning of the second ladder. It wobbled when I stepped on it.
“Hey!” I started to yell to my grandkids below. “Stand back in case this ladder slides off the…”
But I didn’t get that far. Because the moment I stepped onto it, that ladder thought, “Like this?” and took off.
Oh, it made a wonderful noise, especially when it hit the ground. On top the roof, where Brad was just picking up his end of the rope, he paused to look at it. My store manager ran outside, as did two customers. But I had the best view ever as I went hurtling down the barrel tile, picking up speed and wondering if Brad had his end of the rope. After all, my trip to Universal Studios hung in the balance.
As did I.
Suddenly there was a huge jerk against my rib cage, and I came to a halt inches from the edge of the roof. The customers looked up and said, “Oh, she’s got a safety rope” and wandered off, disappointed. The grandkids cheered. The daughter-in-law closed her mouth. And I said to Brad, “Thanks for not panicking.”
“I don’t panic,” he replied.
Best of all (almost better than being alive) was that I got to go to Universal Studios and ride all the rides despite two scraped elbows, a huge bruise on my backside and the feeling that I was continually out of breath.
Well, that last part could have been the roller coasters.