Friday, February 28, 2014

"The Lord of the Rungs"

By Jerry Zezima
The Stamford Advocate
I have never climbed the corporate ladder because I have acrophobia, which is an irrational fear of being any higher off the ground than the top of my head.

But business must be booming for millions of guys who aren’t afraid of climbing to the tops of houses like mine, a two-story Colonial that could give a mountain goat nosebleeds, because I have noticed that most of the trucks and vans on the road these days have ladders on them.

The economy may be down, but ladder sales seem to be up. My buddy Tim Lovelette has a theory about the rise of the ladder industry.

“Everyone has at least one ladder, which lasts for eternity, and everyone dies,” Tim explained. “At the point of death, these ladders need to find their way to new owners. That’s one of the big reasons for yard sales. Yet, hardware stores worldwide continue to sell new ladders. There has to be a point in time where ladders will outnumber people.”

Tim suggested that the world is “ladder happy” and said we must be approaching the point where we can’t even give ladders away.

“Considering that we have more ladders than are needed, there must be some sort of secret ladder subsidy buried in legislation somewhere that supports the manufacture of new ladders,” Tim said. “Perhaps it’s coupled with our foreign aid programs. Are we dumping ladders on Third World countries simply to support new ladder manufacture here? If that’s the case, we’re really headed for trouble. In a global ladder race, the Chinese will beat us every time. We’ll have developing nations full of starving people and ladders.”

Tim acknowledged that he has a philosophical bent because he majored in philosophy at Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vt., where he and I were in the notorious class of 1975. He also said that, like me, he has a great fear of heights.

“I think that’s the reason I didn’t attain the lofty distinction of graduating magna cum ladder,” Tim said. “I was a step down at cum ladder.”

The last time Tim was on a ladder, he said, was in 1974.

“Jane and I were just married and living for the summer in a rental house on Cape Cod,” said Tim, a Massachusetts native who married his high school sweetheart in junior year of college. “A friend of mine gave me a television antenna. Yep, it was the Dark Ages: No cable. In any event, I got to this little ranch-style house, set up the ladder and installed the antenna on the roof. Now comes the good part: I couldn’t get off the roof. I was on that roof for well over two hours before I could muster the courage to get back on the ladder. I could have jumped off the roof and not injured myself, it was that low. It was at that point that I gave up my lifelong ambition to be Batman.”

Tim added that he doesn’t know where he got the ladder.

“Outside of a stepladder, I don’t own one,” he said. “But don’t mention that to anyone. I’m afraid people will find out and start dumping their excess ladders on me.”

That would be the second-worst thing that could happen to Tim, or to me, or to anyone with a fear of heights.

The worst thing, according to Tim, would be a home improvement Armageddon.

“I had been satisfied with thinking about how the world will end,” Tim said. “It was the old question: Will it end by fire or ice? I guess the answer was right in front of my face and I was blind to it. I’ll be a son of a gun if God didn’t orchestrate the whole thing back when the universe was created. The world will end in ladders.”
Copyright 2014 by Jerry Zezima


Suzette Standring said...

LOL! We borrowed a huge ladder from our neighbor across the street. They went away for a while, so we put it temporarily in our garage after a lot of huffing and puffing to fit it. When they got back, we wanted to return it and he said, "No, no, keep it, I'm never climbing that thing again." Tag, we're it.

Cathy Turney said...

I think all those surplus ladders hide with the snow shovels you wrote about, Jerry!

PJK said...

Jerry & Tim:

I don't think one more ladder pun could have been rung out of the subject. I enjoyed this fine column by a fine writer about a fine man. I know from fine because I, too, was a member of that notorious 1975 college class, which graduated a large number of nutcases onto the unsuspecting, wider world.


Jerry Zezima said...

Thanks, Suzette. Maybe all those people Tim are afraid will dump ladders on him will now come over to your house. I hope not. Maybe you can hide on the roof. Or, better yet, tell them to see your neighbor.

Jerry Zezima said...

Cathy, they are teaming up against me. And more snow is on the way. I think I'll go into hiding.

Jerry Zezima said...

Pete, life has its ups and downs, especially where ladders and puns (and ladder puns) are concerned. That, of course, is another fine mess. I know from fine, too, because I know you fit the description, even though you also were in the notorious class of '75, which did indeed graduate many fine nut cases into a world that is no longer unsuspecting but is still, I suspect, bewildered.