October 30, 1999
I was adding a dormer to the front of a house that had a gambrel roof above a low pitch front porch roof. I stood my 8' stepladder on the porch roof, leaned it against the near vertical section of gambrel (barn type) roof and climbed to the top. You know the label that says "Do not stand on or above this step"? They probably shouldn't put that underneath one's feet. I stood on the very top of my ladder, and still I was stretching to install some flashing in the new valley I had created.
|Something like this one.|
The ladder slipped down the roof, dropping me vertically. I almost landed standing on the porch roof with one foot, but more or less bounded off and continued my ride. I fell the rest of the way (another 12' maybe) and landed horizontally face down on the sidewalk! Kind of like a belly flop into the deep end of an empty pool. My body more or less bounced off the concrete and I rolled away from the house onto my back. Just then, the 8' stepladder crashed down onto the space I had just vacated!
I unbuckled my tool belt and laid there taking inventory. "Yup. I definitely spilled a few nails! I know I had more 16 pennies than this in here before!" I did not like the feel of my shoulder and elbow either, but I was conscious and not bleeding. At least not on the surface. Apparently I broke a blood vessel under the skin of my forehead where a massive contusion was speedily developing.
When the homeowner came running out scared stiff, I was able to calm her down and told her what the guys always said: "It's inevitable Mike", they prophesied, "Every carpenter falls off a roof sooner or later." I asked her to bring me a phone, and called my wife to say the inevitable had happened. The worse was yet to come. The ambulance ride, with what turned out to be three broken ribs was ...memorable, and the turning and positioning for x-rays was even worse.
My sense of humor, however, was never better, or far worse, depending on whether or not you even have one! On the table, as they cut all my best Saturday work clothes off of me, a nurse asked when I had my last tetanus shot. I recalled a joke I had just read in The Reader's Digest and said I had three of them last week. That was all the brain scan necessary. Then the doctor barely touched my forehead and that contusion burst and sent a splatter of blood over the whole room. So, 12 years ago today, that old sidewalk made a mark on me, and I left my mark on the ER; ceiling, floor, and walls!