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The Part Where My Brain Went on Vacation


I thought I’d give you a laugh at my expense. Might as well, right? I already embarrassed myself in front of no less than 10 people, might as well let the world know.
I saw an ad advertising opening at the B-town zipline. Know what a zipline is? You strap yourself into the one of the most uncomfortable pieces of equipment on God’s green earth, climb a tower and step of a tiny platform into thin air 125 feet off the ground while you zoom at unbelievable speeds to another tower.
Some people are born with invisible tattoos on their foreheads that say “Do NOT under any circumstances let (your name here) take a job doing (insert job title here).” My invisible tattoo says “Do NOT under any circumstances let Allison take a job doing ANYTHING involving heights.”
I ignored the tattoo and applied for the job. I got an interview. It went well. Until the GM said come back tonight at 7, we’re going to get high. I’m no dummy, I knew that meant I was going zipping. Okay, I’m a self-proclaimed wilderness adventurer. I’ll do the zip. I will conquer the zipline.
I was nervous all day. I don’t like heights. It’s kind of like telling people I’m afraid of snakes. The only reason I’m afraid of snakes is because society taught me to be afraid of snakes. I’m afraid of heights because society says heights are scary. Well, that’s not true. Heights are kind of scary, but not as scary as actually falling. And falling isn’t as scary as hitting the ground. Also, I’m a control freak. I want to be in control of my immediate environment.
I showed up at seven. I got strapped into a body harness and they guide tried to kill me by strapping it so tight I couldn’t breath. Better to suffocate than go splat, right? About twenty feet up the tower I was ready to turn around and go back to the car. The only thing stopping me was the seven people standing behind me.
The GM zipped. The guy in front of me zipped. I couldn’t see a thing from my position. The only other woman to apply zipped. I could finally see. And I was horrified. The ground… it was so far away. Wonderful, solid ground. The tower was shaking in the wind and from the people standing on it. The air was suddenly gone and my heart was racing. The guy in front of me zipped. And then it was my turn. The tower 100 feet away looked more like ten miles. The guide clipped me to the wire-thingy and said whenever I was ready. No sense making a fool of myself, so I stepped into nothingness.
As I turned in mid-air with my back to the tower I was supposed to be landing on, my choice of words weren’t too pretty. I was supposed to be enjoying the view, but all I could think was holy crap, why am I going so fast, slow down!
I kicked my legs, trying to turn around so I could see where I was supposed to land. Finally, I got around and the guide on the other side yelled for me to raise my legs. I landed and realized I didn’t have legs anymore. I could barely stand up I was shaking so bad.
They unhooked me from the zipline, but to my horror, hooked me to another line. At this point, it didn’t occur to me how I was going to get down. I enjoyed watching the other guys zoom across. One stuck his hand out, eyes as big as his head. Clearly, he wasn’t too happy about the sudden landing either. When we were all across, they hooked us one by one to the safety device that enables the guides to walk out on the tiny deck where you have to go to “catch” some of the heavier people that might incur a rough landing. All the way to the end. It slants at an impossible angle. You know, that didn’t bother me. What bothered me was the way the tower sways. That’s not cool.
Then, the more horrific part of all. Getting down. I wanted down. I wanted to kiss the ground and promise never to leave it again. I didn’t know I would have to step off that wobbly platform and fall 100 feet. Seriously, I was looking for the stairs. How can they not have stairs?
I looked down and 100 feet might as well have been all the way to New Zealand. I forgot I was strapped to anything, I forgot there were other people there and I forgot I had any common sense. I wanted down, but I didn’t want down that bad. The guide told me to take my time, do it when I was ready. Okay, see you tomorrow. I’ll sleep here tonight. I started rambling but I can’t tell you what I said. I’m sure there was something about stairs and a couple of ‘oh, god’s’ in there somewhere. I honestly expected stairs to magically appear.
I should’ve closed my eyes and stepped off. Instead, moron than I am, I kept them peeled. For several feet it’s kind of like free falling. I watched the blue rubber mulch rise and meet me and just knew it was going to hurt like hell when I hit. I forgot to keep my legs straight. The guide at the bottom said just a few seconds too late to straighten them. I barely got my feet down when I hit my knees. Hard. I don’t think my legs were capable of holding weight for a few seconds.
The ground. Precious, beautiful, wonderful, unmoving–to the human eye–ground. I staggered toward the exit–in entirely the wrong direction–my poor brain hadn’t caught up with me yet. It was still waiting to do the zipline, I think.
If the freak out on the platform didn’t ruin my chances for the job, the poor landing did. If I’d known there was a 100 foot drop, I’d never have gone back for that second interview. An angled drop, I could’ve handled, but for some reason looking straight down almost caused me to need new pants. I think if they’d given me the shot to do it again, I could’ve done it. Since I was already harnessed and what not. Since I knew what to expect. But no one explained the 100 foot drop. It wa kind of like telling me to stick my hand into an enclosed box that might or might not contain a rattlesnake. People pay money to fall a hundred feet? What is wrong with you people? Gliding along at ridiculous speeds, sure. Dropping–no way!
I could’ve just walked away. Well, limped. My right knee was killing me, but in front of all those men. Huh, I still had the tiniest scrap of pride left. So I stood there with my knees smarting and dripping sweat, because sorry to say I sweat really bad when I’m nervous. And I was dying of thirst because I also get really thirsty when I’m nervous. It was a big relief to get back in the car.
So, if you really are a wilderness adventurer and it’s not just something you say, I recommend ziplining. There are several in the B-town area. Me, I’m going to to stay on the ground. If God wanted me to climb trees, He’d have given me long toenails. If He wanted me to fly, He’d have given me wings. But He gave me two feet with high arches and said, “Walk.” Not a problem.
I’ve swam with the deadly sting rays in Grand Cayman. I’ve climbed the 1000 ft waterfall at Dunns River in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. And now I’ve done the Blue Streak in the Ozark Mountains. Lucky I didn’t leave a brown streak along the way.

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