Little Lady: A Semi-Pointless Story About 2006
And now for a completely pointless story about the first time I ever climbed a roof for work, with a very long-winded pre-story that has no bearing on your life whatsoever:
No little boy or girl draws pictures of being an insurance adjuster during their second grade career day. It's just that at 23, when I was working at a toy store after graduating college in Colorado and subsequently dropping out of law school, I would have adjusted anything you wanted for a real pay check. Which is how I ended up in Colorado for the second time.
It was the end of a really weird summer. A really weird, and really depressing summer. I didn't know back then that quarter-life crises were a thing, but holy tiny baby Jesus...they really are. I had spent the summer at my family's lake house with my cousins and a friend - both of which I pushed away with an impressive (if I say so myself) combination of overbearing clinginess and moody isolation. That year wasn't exactly one of my finest, and although I don't live with regret, I do wish I could find the words to apologize to anyone who knew me then.
The summer had a twinge of romance in the sense that we were all painfully poor and living rustically up at the lake. I mean, rustic-ish. We had a big-screen TV, hot water, two fridges (three if you count the beer fridge outside), and we lived minutes from a K-mart. I believe that's what the townies call "living high on the hog."
It was nice, when it was nice. Three of my cousins worked at Cold Stone and I worked at that toy store down the road. On the weekends we'd make our parents cook extra food so we could eat the leftovers all week. Being 23 should be this simple. And weird. And hard. And instructional.
And it was.
My dad had a great job at a major insurance company, and convinced me to let him look for openings for me. I say "let him" like he wouldn't have anyway. I mean, he's my dad. But I was (read: am) a fragile, stubborn, pig-headed, jackass of a flower. I wanted to do everything myself since the moment I said my first word: "no." I hate the world of nepotism, and worse than that, I got nauseous at the thought of having to live into my dad's well trodden shoes.
Then again. Money.
I was absolutely miserable in New York. Something in me felt like I wasn't done in Colorado. I missed it with that kind of aching gut that is usually reserved for the pining of a lover. I mourned the life I had in college; I had friends, I did things, I wasn't as moody, I was better there. And I wanted to go back.
The best advice I had gotten that year was from my old boss and mentor (hey Heather), who left Colorado when I did. She told me that I could move to the same exact place again, but I could never get that life back. Things had moved on, and you can't go back in time.
I ignored her, because #23, and told my parents I wanted to move. My mom started wearing a black veil, my sister started packing up to go to college in Rochester, and my dad did what dads do and started looking for a position in his company for me in Denver.
I got two phone interviews that summer: one for a job I can't even remember now, and one for the job I've had for 10 years.
Here's a tip for all the kids out there: don't do a phone interview in mesh shorts in a public park on a shoddy cell phone. Also, don't say that you "could be a chief or an Indian" when they ask you if you're more of a follower or a leader.
I got that second job, thank God. I remember sitting in my parent's dining room when I got the call. I asked if they sent me all 45-thousand-dollars at once, or if it was broken up somehow.
I packed up all the crap I had in storage from collage and law school, kissed DeFazio's on the lips, and my dad and I drove back to Colorado for the fourth time. Three full days of the flattest green and brown land that you almost can't believe will end in such a comical jutting of mountains. How did people make that trip in covered wagons? A wagon! We were in a GMC Jimmy with air conditioning and we just about ended it all before we hit Buffalo.
Seriously...where was this story going?
Oh right. Anyway, my job, as the story unfolded, was to assess homes and businesses for damage. You know, if a tree falls on your house, I'd write you a check. Sometimes, we'd get a claim for damage to a roof because of snow and ice buildup.
And that's how I found myself standing on a roof in Denver that was covered in an impressively thick layer of ice. I have no idea how I got up there, but I knew someone was going to have to burn the house down around me to get me on the ground.
The lovely little homeowner who almost came up to my shoulder with his cowboy boots and oversized Yosemite Sam hat on could not have been nicer. He was genuinely concerned that such a nice young girl was climbing a ladder all by herself. So obviously, I hated him.
Fast forward several months, and you'll hear me tell the man in Texas who wanted a man to climb his roof, "Don't worry sir, I used to be one."
A few weeks after that, you'll hear me tell a contractor to hold my camera so I can climb the ladder without tripping on my vagina.
I'm aggressively combative when I'm told I can't do something.
Anyway, there I was on top of this man's home in Denver, squatting in a valley on the roof, pretending to look *very* closely at a shingle, and doing the rosary.
Eventually (because it began to snow), I started to edge my way toward my very flimsy non-company-issued ladder that was not secured in any way to the home, when I hit a patch of ice and started to do something of a split.
If you've met me in person, picture this.
If you haven't met me in person, picture Dom Deluise.
Somehow, by the grace of the tiny fat infant Buddha, or because I landed on my butt and clenched so hard that I left tire tracks, I stopped about a foot away from the edge.
Heart pounding in my ears, and my stomach in my throat, I looked down through the beads of sweat collecting on my eyelashes, and saw my little cowboy, belt buckled gleaming in the sun. He looked up with me with eyes as big as saucers, then held his hands up above his head like he was auditioning to be an extra in the Village People's YMCA music video and said, "I've got you little lady!"
Would he have actually tried to catch me? Who knows.
But to this day, that was the most chivalrous thing that's ever happened to me.
When I got off the ladder, and stopped kissing the ground, I wrote him a check that would have paid for mustache wax for the next several years.
The moral of the story? It's trifold:
- Sometimes it's ok to go back, even if it'll never be the same
- Always bring an extra pair of underwear when you're stupid enough to climb on an ice covered roof in the winter in Colorado.
- Never call me little lady.