Last summer, no longer able to stand looking out through a scrim of dirt, I washed the outside windows in my greenhouse/solarium kitchen. Which is to say I washed them as high up as I could reach with my super-duper, 12 foot extension, aluminum pole window washing device, while standing on the second step of my stepstool.
The answer to how high I could reach was up until the glass curved.
But since the curved glass is well above my lookout point, it was all for the good. Even with a few streaks, the windows look a lot better. Relative to before, they’re positively gleaming.
I could, of course, have done a better job if I’d been more courageous.I could have gotten out our gorilla ladder and really had at it.
But I’m not.
There are plenty of things that I could do if I were willing to extend our Gorilla Ladder out to its fullest.
Actually, I am willing to extend our Gorilla Ladder out to its fullest. I’m just not willing to climb it once I’ve done so.
No, I’m one of those folks with a real fear of heights.
This doesn’t cripple me on a day to day basis. Who wants to wash windows, anyway?
But I have had a couple of moderate panic attacks – one in the cocktail lounge on top of the highest building in Chicago that has a cocktail lounge on top, another when I did a canyon hike in Arizona. I never did make it down to tour the pueblos.
I also didn’t go look over the edge of Dun Aengus on Inishmore in Ireland either time I was there.
Thanks but no thanks. I’ll just hang out here a couple of dozen yards away feeling my skin crawl.
The panic attacks don’t put me in a fainting swoon. But I do feel quite a bit of physical, get-me-away-from-here apprehension when they happen.
I’ve also had a panic attack when doing height-related reading, as when I had to put down a New Yorker article on Philippe Petit, the skywalker who crossed between the twin towers of the old World Trade Center on a wire. Without harness, parachute, or safety net – not that a safety net would do much good from that height.
Height as fear factor came rushing back to me the other day when my sister Trish sent me an email with the subject “nightmare” and a link to an article on a couple of window washers:
…who became suspended 69 stories above the street while working at the newly completed 1 World Trade Center. (Source: NY Times)
When I first took a look, the window washers were dangling there, but within a couple of hours New York City’s Bravest were able to rescue them, after:
…cutting a hole through a window near the platform, assembling inside and pulling the workers to safety.
Neither of the window washers – Juan Lizama, 41 and Juan Lopez – were injured. But I’m sure that the wait time while they were in their machine gone bad was a nightmare, even for a couple of guys who must not have the fear of heights that I do.
I’m having a heart attack just thinking about it.
Makes even the worst day at work – and I had a few over the years – seem like big nothing, doesn’t it?
As for the fire fighters, well, good for them for carrying this rescue off.
I would think that it must be kind of tricky working a rescue at the reincarnation of the WTC, given that 343 jakes lost their lives there on 9/11.
But apparently these guys are stoics:
Asked if working a rescue at the new building stirred any particular emotions, given the history of the firefighters who died in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, [NYFD] Lieutenant [Billy] Ryan said that was not on his mind.
“It’s business,” he said. “You separate yourself from that.”
Me? I can’t even separate myself from panicking over the idea of being a dangling window washer or a daring fireman.
Sure glad there are guys like Billy Ryan out there. And the two Juans, for that matter. If they’re even in Boston, they can wash my windows. Piece of cake. No dangling infernal machine. I’ll even help them launch the Gorilla Ladder.