Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Crane and I

So, I'm married to a civil engineer. I do know, deep down inside, that he loves to play in the dirt and he spends most of his time, work and free, outside. Usually in jeans that by the end of the week, can stand up on their own. He continues what I can only imagine is his boyhood dream of playing with Tonka trucks in a sand box. But this time, Big Bear, California is his sand box.

He's been building this really cool bridge for the last couple of years. I like it because it means we can stay in a nice cabin on the weekends and go boating.

But I'm all about trying to be engaging and understanding what makes the man I've been married to for almost two decades tick. So I climbed the crane.

This wasn't just any crane, folks, this was a HUGE crane that he had to wrestle to get special permits for and have assembled up on the mountain top. It moves big pieces of bridge around and it's really massive. And tall. People stop on the side of the current bridge and take pictures of this crane. I've never felt the urge, but that doesn't mean I didn't respect the crane.

So when hubby asked if I wanted to go on top of said crane, I thought, "sure, why not?" Now, I am a pretty logical person, but there are a few things that kind of stand my hair on end. One is the dentist. But, no dentists operate cranes (that I know of) so I was safe on that count. The other is heights. Which is oxymoronish because I'm kind of tall. But I'm all for self preservation and the understanding that our bodies have adapted to keep us alive, so when my mind is screaming at me 'THIS IS REALLY HIGH! STEP AWAY FROM THE WAIST HIGH SAFETY BAR!' I tend to listen, if you know what I mean. Hubby - braver than me, as you can see by this picture:

Yes, these are my feet and it was really hard to look down.

Does the word "matchbox" come to mind here, or what?
Okay, I'll be honest. I thought I'd ask what I should wear to the crane visit. I was thinking maybe some nice tennies or flats. Something reptilian deep down inside that was all self preservationish told me to choose the super heavy hiking boots instead. The ones my husband gets all wistful about and measures for crampons every now and then. That's when I remind him I birthed him three boys so they could go snow camping with him and I could stay home at the spa.
This picture over here is the rabbit hole we emerged from after climbing about 500 little tiny yellow metal ladder steps. For some reason, I thought perhaps we would have a cute little bucket elevator take us to the top of the crane. Nope. We had to climb. Which meant focusing on the rung in front of me and not on the wrungs above or below. For about half an hour each way.
See this guy? This is the crane operator. This man climbs this crane EVERY SINGLE DAY. He spends his day in that crane. He has an iPOD, pics of the fam, about 500 bottles of gatorade and a bucket (if you know what I mean.) He sits there, nothing between him and 100 feet of airspace except for some safety plastic all day, five days a week. Wowza. And you know what? He was really nice and sane. Not what I expected from someone who sits 100 feet above the earth for hours on end and moves big pieces of stuff around all day. He used to be a marine. I think you need marine training to do that job.

Okay, so I told you that there was no elevator. Now, let me tell you what else: there was no clear path to the crane. We had to pick and choose our footing very carefully. It reminded me of hiking in the Sierras on a snow field where I had to tread in hubby's footsteps or incur instant death from dropping between boulders that held nothing but pretty snow,.. and air. Did I mention I was expecting a path?
So, yes, this is kind of an 'expose on cranes.' They are not for the suburban. Like me.
We had to figure out where to walk between ice patchs, a field of rebar, and large pieces of sharp things laying hither and thither. No path.
But, I made it! I ventured out onto the boom. I even allowed the crane operator to move the boom, while I was standing on it. I didn't make it to the crow's nest. I had my child's doctor's appointment to go to. Thank God for small favors.

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