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GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

Welcome to The Sandbox, a forum for service members who have served or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned vets, spouses and caregivers. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. All correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted, lightly edited. If you know someone who is deployed who might have something to say, please tell them about us. To submit a post click here.

JUMPING THE DEPLOYMENT SHARK |

February 18, 2010

JUMPING THE DEPLOYMENT SHARK
Name: Guard Wife
Posting date: 2/18/10
Spouse deployed to: Iraq
Hometown: Dayton, Ohio
Milblog: Spousebuzz

Here on Spousebuzz we have discussed Deployment's relationship with Murphy quite a bit. And, even when everything that can go wrong does, there may come a time in deployment where we are lucid enough to realize that we have jumped the deployment shark.

Maybe you remember the scene in Happy Days that spawned the phrase "jumping the shark", but if not, good old You Tube can help:


When Fonzie jumped that shark, the series went to the point of no return. Sometimes commentators or others will use this phrase as a way to describe someone who has reached a completely crazy level of absurdity -- so far off the rails, things will never be the same again.

It occurred to me today that Deployment, even with Murphy in tow, will have one moment where you realize you've stepped onto a different plateau.

My moment came today when I found myself standing on a portion of the roof of my house. This portion of my house is a cheaply built one-season room that was typical for the times in which my house was constructed. It is what it is -- usually no more than a shelter from the elements for the dogs.

In the past couple weeks, we have had a ton of snow fall in our area. And, with below-freezing
temperatures between snowfalls, the inches just keep piling up without the benefit of melting. The day before yesterday, I noticed that the ceiling in the add-on room was dripping in various places. By today, every seam in that ceiling was leaking. A lot. And it appeared things were bowing under the weight of the snow.

I knew from previous repairs made to that roof that my husband and a good-sized neighbor had both been up there at the same time and it had not collapsed, and even with the numbers on my scale starting to creep upward, I am nowhere near their combined weight. I had no excuse not to fix that snow problem, I told myself.

When I mentioned it to my husband yesterday he said, "Well, if you get up there, be careful."  So it occurred to me that, perhaps, he thought I should be remedying this situation and/or that I was capable of doing it. It crossed my mind to ask our neighbor for assistance in this project, but as an attorney, I spent even more time considering the civil liability of asking someone who is not bonded and insured to climb on your roof because you are too scared to do it yourself.

I thought, "Do we even have a ladder?"  My six-year-old informed me that we did indeed and she even told me where it is stored. 

Framed Guard Wife shark ladder From the looks of this rickety thing, I'd have been better off finding a rope and climbing the wall. Actually, the ladder wasn't so awful, but the snow and ice under it didn't really help it maintain any sort of stability.

I had to shovel quite a bit of snow even to be able to set the ladder up, and even then it was on the cobblestone walk, which is uneven anyhow. And yet the room continued to leak and I continued to think this was somehow something I should be doing.

I spent nearly an hour on this little project. You see, once I began to clear the 16-18 inches of snow off the roof, I realized that underneath the snow was a nice sheet of solid ice made even more slippery by the slush layer right between the snow and the ice. I suppose the "this stupid room has a metal roof" should have been a clue that it might be a wee bit slippery up there. 

As I neared the center of the roof, I remembered, only after nearly sticking a booted foot through it, that there is a skylight. It was then that I realized: I have jumped the shark. I am on a roof. A snowy, icy, metal, angled roof. And this has created a fundamental change that I may never be the same after -- if I live.

Once I had avoided sacrificing myself to the snow gods, I was so glad to be finished. I was on the  complete opposite side of the roof and had to carefully return to where I had parked my ladder.  That's when I realized something; getting up was the easiest part. I really began to feel sorry for all the cats in treetops and the reasoning, "Well, he got up there...he'll come down when he's hungry."  I calculated my chances if I did happen to fall, and they weren't good. I decided I'd better try and exit the roof as gracefully (ahem!) as I had climbed onto it.

I will spare you the several erroneous methods I used prior to almost knocking the ladder over with my foot, made extra clumsy by my sensible (but snazzily colored) boots. I finally sat flat on my bottom and stretched my legs down as far as I could, one at a time, until both were securely on the ladder's second rung -- because, as you know, if you step on the top rung you may fall (insert sarcastic cackle here).

As I straightened into a standing tall stance on that second rung, I quickly realized that my sensible boots were also wider than the shoes that must be normally worn when one uses this ladder. This occurred to me when I went to step down to the next rung and couldn't because my boots were wedged tightly together. I tried to put a little weight behind the backward tug of my foot and the ladder teetered so much it made my stomach flip.

Luckily (but freakishly scarily), the screen door to this room was wedged solidly open in the snow.  I could reach it with my hands if I leaned over the top of the ladder. So I grabbed it with one hand and steadied the ladder by holding onto the icy overhang of the roof with my other hand. I was able to free one boot and come down the ladder.

When I re-entered my house, my backside was soaking wet and freezing cold from my waistband to the tops of my boots. And yet, I was sweating. I believe that was my body's way of saying, "You crazy, crazy woman! We are entirely too old for these shenanigans!! You must never ever
do anything like this again!!!"

Framed Guard Wife shark shovel Then, I realized I'd forgotten my shovel on the roof.

I grabbed my camera (because I needed proof of my mental instability) and headed back up the ladder. Yeah. I'm not doing this ever again. Ever.

Of course, you and I both know that Murphy and Deployment conspire to ruthlessly push the envelope, so I know better than to say this was the "shark" moment of this deployment. I sincerely hope it was, but I'm not holding my breath.

I know I can't be alone in jumping the Deployment Shark. I would love to hear your shark jumping moment in the Comments section below. Share away!

Comments

Allow me to be the first. On the beach where I walk, there are three seawalls that I must pass. Usually the middle one is the most treacherous--you can see a picture of it in my blog on a post from last September titled No Beach To Walk On (left-click on my name to access my blog). Anyway, when the tides are very high, during the spring and fall, sometimes the only way around the seawall is to climb it. To appeciate this situation, you must imagine eight to ten foot waves, crashing against this thing, any one of which having more than enough energy to easily knock you over and against it, probably smashing your head against solid concrete. One time, I got up on one side easily enough and got across it (being about 75 feet long) but when I reached the northern side, I discovered the beach had been seriously eroded to the point where it now was a twelve foot drop from the concrete ledge where I was to the beach. So did I reason as a sensible person might and turn around and say this is too dangerous? Of course not--I was at the beach on a sunny day and tide or no tide, I was going on my walk. So I dropped my shirt and my flip-flops to the beach below and proceeded to climb over the edge, feet first. At one point, there was nothing to hold onto any longer and I had to slide my chest over the concrete ledge. I was then hanging from the ledge, unable to see or judge the distance to the beach and I just jumped. I landed on the beach without incident and collected my belongings and continued my walk, while examining the scrape on my chest. Then and only then did it occur to me how I could have seriously injured or conceivably killed myself, all for the sake on one nice walk on the beach, at a time when I had no health insurance. But I survived my misadventure, as you did, and lived to share the tale. All's well that ends well, shark or no shark.

I thank you both for sharing these (hysterical) stories. I've spent many years saying to myself (in a suprised and wondering voice) "Wow, in retrospect, that was a stupid and dangerous thing that I just did. I'm lucky to be alive & in one piece" !
Glad to know that it's not just me!

The question is - how long could a shark live out of water - ie before
it died because it can't breath in air?

Take a big great white shark as the example if you need to be specific
(though I won't insist on that).

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