29 Oct 2009

Robert Wenzel Reads My Critique and Decides to End It All

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…or something like that. I have a similar tale involving a ladder, near-death, and utter stupidity.

My last year at NYU, I lived upstairs in my grandma’s house in Copiague. I was out late drinking and being a hooligan (as all economics PhD students do) and then had to ride the Long Island Railroad for 2 hours to get home. Consequently it had to be at least 3 am when I walked up to my grandma’s front door.

Alas, my uncle also lived there, and when he had gotten back from his night shift, he had locked not only the main door, but the outer screen door as well. (He didn’t realize I was still out.) I only had a key to the main door.

So not wanting to wake anybody at 3 am or whatever time it was, I decided to be a ninja. My uncle’s day job was owning a roofing company, so he had a bunch of ladders in the back yard, and there was a deck off the second-floor bedroom where I stayed.

So I put the ladder in place, and then start climbing. However, the grass was dewy and I was wearing sandals. (It was the summer I think when this happened.) I get up to the top, and I just have to climb over the rail of the deck. So I grab one of the little slats (leading from the floor of the deck up to the chest-level handrail) with my left hand, the main handrail with my right hand, and I get ready to really heave my manly self up and over.

But just as I’m giving it the old grad-school try, the whole left slat comes out. So I’m standing on top of the ladder, staring at this thing in my hand, completely unconnected to the deck that I just ripped it from. I must have panicked since that was the last thing in the world I was expecting to happen, and then my feet slid forward a tiny bit but enough for me to fall.

I don’t know if I can really describe it in a blog post, but realize that the ladder was still propped up against the second-story deck at an angle, and I had been standing on the 3rd or so rung from the top of the ladder. So my whole body just scooted forward an inch or so, allowing me to fall straight down about three feet until my butt hit a ladder rung.

Then the whole ladder came down, and me with it. As I was falling I must have slowed things down by grabbing for the deck, because later on I noticed my right forearm was all scraped.

After the huge crash, I was on the ground sitting on the ladder. Not only was I unscathed (except for my forearm), but my bad back was totally cured.

It wasn’t until the next day that it really struck me how lucky I was. My legs were intertwined in the rungs of the ladder as I was falling. I could have easily snapped an ankle or worse.

As a religious person I have no problem saying angels saved me. If you prefer, you can thank a statistically improbably original configuration of molecules.

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