The Dudes on the Crane
The meeting took place in a conference room in a big building. The room has one of those panoramic floor-to-ceiling windows, and across the street was a squared-out, sort of hollow construction crane at the same level as our floor-- that is, 9 stories up--and angled straight at us. At one point we were deep in discussion about some item we were trying to figure out how to make, when I looked out the window and saw that there was a leg sticking out of the bottom of the crane, sort of waving around, like maybe the guy crawling around in the crane had lost his footing on the snowy metal.
I must've gasped, because everyone else looked out the window too. The mood, which had been in turns raucous and purposeful, became charged--here we were, all together, a bunch of people who really didn't know each other that well, witnessing something that was either horrific--if the guy was in danger--or funny--if he wasn't--and it was obvious that in either case there was nothing we could do about it.
I covered my eyes. "I can't look, I can't look!" I cried. "I'm scared of heights! I can't even look!"
I looked again anyway. The leg was gone, pulled back into the boxy part of the crane, and then there it was waving out the bottom again. Then we saw another guy, crawling around inside the crane.
"There are two of them!" another administrator gasped.
"I'm pretty sure they wear harnesses," one guy said.
"They're fine," said someone. By then it seemed pretty clear that they were actually fine, or at least we decided that they must be, and we were overtaken by a wave of giddiness and black humor.
"And we wouldn't be able to see them hit if they fell, anyway," said someone else.
"I'm sure there's a trampoline down there," an artist reassured me. "They'd just bounce right back up."
"Maybe we should put up a sign in the window," the graphic artist suggested. "Like, DO YOU NEED HELP?"
Things went on in this vein for a few minutes, along with some discussions of equations regarding terminal velocity that seemed perfectly appropriate and hysterically funny at the time and now seem callous and horrifying. And then we went back to planning.
Tonight, one of the administrators emailed me some meeting notes that she's sending to our boss. I wrote back with a few of my own notes, and added that it was probably just as well that she hadn't included the part about the guys on the crane.
She wrote back to me: "I didn't include the part about the dudes on the crane because I never ever want to think about that again. :)"
And I know just what she means.