As you know...I have an attic over my garage. It usedto be un-usable--
it was just 2x4s with insulation inbetween the beams, and sheetrock beneath
theinsulation, creating the ceiling of my garage. About15 years ago, we
put plywood 4x8s over the beams,creating a sort of subfloor. That enabled
me to store stuff up there.
For years, my parents have obsessed over the attic floor. "One day that ceiling is gonna fall down onyour head and kill you or Laura." They based this--well, they based this on their usual fear thatthe worst is going to happen. Beyond that, they based it on a hole created in the garage ceiling...when something slipped between the 4x8s and poked throughthe sheetrock.
Anyway...to make a long story longer, I remember being horrified when my dad's guys were redoing the attic floor. I got home one day to findthe hugest beam I had ever seen bisecting my garage ceiling, held up by the second hugest beam I'd ever seen running vertically from garage floor to ceiling, held up by what appeared to be jacks...like the ones you use on your car when you have a flat. Very ghetto, and-I thought-worse than what they set out to repair in the first place. Apparently the floor-to-ceiling beam and jack getup was temporary.
Eventually, they removed the vertical beam from the center of my garage, installed new light fixtures, sheetrocked the garage ceiling, andthat was the end of that. i thought the whole thing was a huge waste of money,even though it wasn't my money. Still...if someone was gonna spend money on my house, I would have preferred a new living room floor.
This evening, I decided to refinish a couple of chairs. I climbed up into the attic, to find the chairs. I lowered the first one through the attic"doorway" ...which is really just a framed hole in the middle of the attic floor, attached to the ladder/stairway. Laura was down in the garage, grabbing the chairs as I lowered them down. It's the first time I've been in the attic since my dad's big improvement project. I thought it
looked different. Less complete than before. That couldn'tbe right. My dad's guys spent days rehabbing the attic floor. The whole point was to strengthen it. Not that I thought it needed strengthening in the first place. But that's beside the point.
In any event, something didn't look right. It's as if some of the subfloor was missing. Or something. Hmn. As I lowered the last chair down to the garage, I moved my foot to a better position. After all, I was basically straddling this hole in the floor, lowering the chair, leaning down-head first. Can you visualize that? A precarious position.
I wanted to have solid footing. So I moved my foot off the beam onto the flooring, and BAM! Or maybe it was more like"CRUNCH!" My foot slipped off what I THOUGHT was flooring, but turned out to be more like a piece of board, carelessly tossed onto what turned out to be several little PIECES of wood. Pieces, mind you...like one inch thick, maybe four inches wide, maybe 18 to 24inches long. Like the wood they use on wine crates. A handful of those laid together to LOOK like the 4x8that USED to be there. When I stepped onto that, they just slipped off to the side, and my foot plunged right through the sheetrock and I grabbed a vertical support beam as my rear end came to rest on a coupleof brass pipes running across the attic floor for I don't know what purpose.
At least those were solidly attached to something. Not that I planned it that way or anything. Laura screams. I have NO idea what sound I made. But thank god I'm neurotic when I do dirty work, and I was wearing rubber gloves, or I surely would have lost mygrip on the beam. Laura's down below me freaking out. "Mama...are
you okay? Are you gonna fall the rest ofthe way through? What do I do? Do I call 911? Can you hang on? What do I DO?!?!??!?"
Meanwhile, I'm in a really bad position. One leg is all the way through the floor, dangling into the garage. I'm literally holding myself in place withone arm hugging this beam...and I'm perched in a sortof sitting position on these horizontal pipes that caught my butt. It was enough time to wonder...did my substantial posterior save my life? OR... did it nearly get me killed? (we later decided it saved me. as laura points out, even if i still weighed only 100 pounds, there's no way the 1/2 inch sheetrock would have held me up. i still would have fallen through.and if i still weighed 100, it's quite possible iwould have been thin enough to slip right through,without my rear end getting hung up on the horizontal pipes. hmn. "woman's fat ass saves her life")
So...I'm hanging on, and I'm really shook. It was like the scene in the action movie when the good guy is hanging on with one hand...and it's starting to slip. I'm trying to figure out the safest thing to put my other hand on...to get my balance...while I haul myself up and out of the hole. But I no longer trust anything up there. What if I choose something else that looks solid...and IT turns out to be flimsy? These copper pipes can't possibly hold me...they're only an inch thick and they're only pipes...and who knows what they're connected to. Plus my heart is pounding. I can't believe
I'm dangling half through the attic floor... ten feet above the concrete floor of my garage. Or is it twelve feet? Either way... it's longer than I want to fall.
All the while Laura is down below, shrieking"Mom...what do I do? What do I do?" I told her to just hang on while I figure it out. I reached up and grabbed another beam, one which I'm pretty sure existed before my dad's ace rehab job. I slowly pull myself up and out of the hole... doing a kind of shimmy thing to squeeze back through the hole without disturbing anythiing else. I hook my leg up and over the frame of the attic opening. Then I just sat at the top of the ladder for about a minute, sweating & waiting for my heart to stop pounding.
There's a mess of debris on the garage floor, and several big slices of sheetrock, and a scattering of the stupid pieces of wood that some shortcuttingjackass tucked together to LOOK like a solid floor.
As I sat in the kitchen pressing a bag of frozen peas onto my right knee, I remember when my dad had his guy(his 1976 guy, who went by the name Abdul) fix the brakes on my old VW bug. Abdul put them in backwards.
My right leg is scraped up and my knee is swollen and bruised... and three hours
later, my left arm now feels a little wrenched, and I've got bruises on my right
arm and NO idea how they even got there. All of which is much better than
going splat on the concrete floor.
Monday, July 31, 2006
The story you're about to read is true...
It happened a relative of mine whose name I shall not reveal...but those of you who know her will know exactly who wrote the following story...which she titled "My Big Butt Saved My Life"