January 14, 2012
Originally published October 9, 2004
I watched a couple of ironheads at work today installing a hoist on an I-beam about 150 feet off the ground. They were tied off and wearing harnesses, but they didn't worry about falling. Their harness ropes stayed slack the entire time. They walked the beam, passed tools to each other and ate lunch up there on that narrow piece of steel. When they were finished eating, one of them laid down on his back on the beam and took a nap while the other one stood up to watch a big container ship sail down the Savannah River.
Those crazy bastards. I would have shit my pants up there.
I suppose your comfort zone depends on what you KNOW. When I ran the acid plant at work, that place scared a lot of people. I wasn't frightened of it, even though I was well aware of the dangers, but I KNEW what I was doing there. Those ironheads I watched today probably felt the same way about working at high altitude. They KNEW what they were doing.
I become frightened today when I realize that I DON'T know what I'm doing. I don't run into that situation often anymore after living 51 years, but it happens sometimes.
Today marks my two-year anniversary of my prostate surgery. That frightened me because I wasn't sure about what I was doing. Yes, October 9, 2001 is a day I will remember for the rest of my life. I wasn't really frightened then, but I've never been the same since. I was simply reconciled when I had the surgery, then I railed against the repercussions for a long time afterward.
But it wasn't like crawling a beam 150'above the ground and doing grunt work.
It was just a passing bad time. I am over that now.
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