People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones and people who are afraid of heights shouldn’t clean gutters.”
That was the thought that occurred to me on Saturday as I climbed up a ladder to do the disgusting deed. Well, let me back up. First, I had to build the ladder before I could climb it. Now, I know you’re thinking ‘people don’t build ladders, chris, they buy them’ but this is one of those fancy ladders. Ya know the kind
, it’s like a Transformer so it can be shaped into an upside down V or a really long H (I realize those aren’t the technical terms for the ladder shapes but this isn’t a post about ladders, it’s about gutters so bear with me).
I pull out the instructions and I’m reading them on the front lawn while Emma & Gerrit are holding hands, running through the sprinkler. I don’t think much about the little scene on our front lawn until I see one of those door to door salesmen for gutter helmet or some type of gutter cover coming down the sidewalk towards us. A defeated sigh escaped my lips. Here I was, in plain sight, quite obviously getting ready to clean the visible vegetation out of my gutters. I was like a sitting duck. Or a fish in a barrel.
Anyways, I was mentally preparing myself for the inevitable sales pitch and my secret weapon to such encounters… ‘we’re moving soon’. I’ve found it has the perfect amount of ‘i don’t care’ implied without actually having to say it. You can use it too, even if you’re not moving right away because soon is a relative term.
So I stand up as he approaches (because there’s nothing more uncomfortable than talking to a door to door salesman on your knees), I look him dead in the eyes and smile. He said ‘how’s it going?’ and then he continues walking past me!
I was dumbfounded! What just happened? I stood there watching him walk by and knock on my neighbor’s door. Huh… I’m still baffled. The best I can figure is that my children looked so adorable with their hand holding, squeals of laughter and delightful hops through the sprinkler that he assumed we were having the time of our lives cleaning the gutter. As if trying to sell me a product that would prevent this kind of magical moment would be met with such ridicule and mockery, he didn’t dare broach the subject with me. Either that or I have finally mastered my stone cold, thug life stare. SO intimidating that even a tank top, workout shorts and high ponytail can’t suppress it’s power! I decided it was the latter of the two and continued building my ladder.
After several minutes of pulling levers, moving parts and pushing knobs, I had my ladder built. I texted my official last words to Dan… ‘I am cleaning the gutters’. He replied… ‘Don’t fall!’ which I took to be a cute way of saying ‘atta girl!’. He told me later he was actually worried I would fall.
And that’s the REAL problem with having a transforming ladder. Because as I started to climb it, it dawned on me that I was trusting my life to my ladder building skills!! Not exactly reassuring. Tentatively, I climbed rungs 1,2 & 3 and then I waited a few seconds.
I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed it yourself but there’s a really big difference in rungs 3 & 4. I’ve never measured it but I’m pretty sure 4 is about 500 feet higher than 3. I took a deep breath and finally mustered up the courage to continue climbing. Then I tried to stay focused on the task at hand so I wouldn’t freak out. Even when ants started to crawl from the dirt piles I was pulling out of the gutters. Even when my mind started to wonder what I’d do if one started crawling on me. Would I scream and jump off the ladder to my demise? I started chanting in my head ‘don’t jump to your death’ over and over in my head.
Emma: “Mommy, are you scared up there?”
Me (in my best nonchalant voice): “Yes!”
Gerrit: “Because you’re scared of heights, right? Do you like being up there?”
Me: “Not particularly. It’s not the funnest job.”
Gerrit: “I bet if you fell now, you’d break your leg for sure. Or your arm!”
Me: “Uh, yeah. Thanks for the reminder. Hey dude, if I fell you’d call for help, right?”
Gerrit: “With what?”
Me: “My phone. It’s right over there. You would need to call someone to help me if I fell.” nervous laugh “You know that, right?”
Gerrit: “I don’t really know how.”
He was right. Because I have a very strict ‘get your hands off of it, don’t touch my phone!’ policy, they have no idea how to work it. And it was right then that the gravity of the situation hit me. Not only had I left my life relying on my ladder building skills but in the hands of an 8 & 7 year old who would only know how to play Angry Birds Rio on my phone while I lay writhing on the ground in agony if I fell! I was a breath away from a panic attack.
I didn’t fall. I finished cleaning the front part of the gutters and then I made lunch for the kids. I know you’re thinking ‘that’s not the dramatic ending i was looking for!’ but I prefer it to my body being splayed across my front lawn. And really, this post was about cleaning gutters so I’m not sure why you got your hopes up. I mean, you read the title, right? The moral of the story is that people who are afraid of heights shouldn’t clean gutters and I’m sticking to it.