Up On The Roof


I was born to be adventurous. It is in my blood.

From the time I could first walk and figured out how to push a chair up to the front door to unlatch said door and go exploring down the street, I have craved adventure. Thankfully for my mother, our African American mailman knew me and would bring me home every time.

The need to go out and see what’s out there and try everything has never left me. It has made for some interesting predicaments.

With that spirit of adventure, my son recently brought me some Thanksgiving flavored potato chips. I tried one; it was awful. But to be fair, I tried another. It was still awful. Then to get the flavor out of my mouth, I had to eat several Cheetos. That helped. It was all very scientific.

I tried to be a gymnast once. I actually did very well on the balance beam and trampoline. But since I was already in the 9th grade, I had to face the fact that I wasn’t going further in my gymnastic quest.

I tried to be a cheerleader but tore my hamstring in the tryouts. That ended that.

Once I tried ziplining, and I loved it. Now it’s something I really enjoy.

I have even been white water rafting and had a lot of fun…except for the time I fell out of the boat and it took three very large young men to pull me back in.

I still love racing go-carts and my experiences with riding four wheelers have made my husband go gray headed.

So I just can’t understand what happened that day on the roof.

I was 16 years old and had a receptionist job after school at Frank’s TV and Antenna shop. Frank was an older friend from my church who hired my boyfriend, his friend and me. While they fixed broken televisions and installed antennas, I answered the phone, took messages, wrote checks, and took payments. It was boring.

One afternoon when everyone was out on a job, Frank rushed in.

Frank was over six feet tall, wiry, and weighed about 150 pounds soaking wet. He chained smoked cigarettes and drank about two gallons of sweet, iced tea a day. He also overused menthol inhalants for his continuous stuffy noise. But he was a sweet man and my employer.

“Vicki, when are the other workers getting back?” Frank asked.

“No time soon; they just left,” I said.

“I am in trouble. I forgot that I promised this lady that I would have her antenna up by today,” he groaned. “It is supposed to be a gift for her husband!”

That’s when I noticed that Frank’s perpetually blood-shot eyes were staring at me with a calculating look.

“Think you could help me out for a while?” Frank asked me.

What? And get out of the stuffy boring office? “You bet!” I said as I raced past him and climbed in the van.

Upon arriving at the home of the customer, Frank put his ladder up to the roof, climbed up and told me to hand up his tools. I did everything I could to help. But then Frank yelled, “Vic, come up here and help me!”

AWESOME! I could help with an installation? This was so great!

I scrambled up the ladder and held up the 15 foot antenna while he installed guidewires and tar. (Remember those giant antennas on people’s roofs that helped them get all three channels?)

Soon, Frank was finished, so he gathered up his paraphernalia and climbed down the ladder.

Next, it was my turn. When I stepped to the edge of the roof, I froze. It was a long way down.

I immediately sat down and started giggling like a fool.

Frank looked up in alarm and asked what was wrong.

“I can’t move…I can’t come down…I have to pee, and I can’t stop laughing!!” I said in between bouts of idiotic giggling.

Frank started yelling. “You come down right now! You were all over this roof a little while ago. You can do this!” I just laughed harder, crossing my legs.

Finally, after 10 minutes, poor skinny Frank sighed with resignation and climbed back up the ladder. Before I knew what hit me, I was thrown over his shoulder and carried back down the ladder. Frank would have made a great fireman.

There was dead silence in the van on the way back to the office. I felt so stupid.

The next day, everyone started laughing when I went into the shop. All eyes turned to me and Frank said, “No more antennas for you. You are definitely not UP to the task!” “Don’t plan on going up to heaven…you won’t make it without having to go to the bathroom first!” I remained the butt of their jokes for weeks. So, I discovered something about myself. I don’t like heights with nothing between me and the ground except for a ladder and a skinny man.


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