Many years ago, when I was contracted to do maintenance at an apartment complex, one of the residents phoned with a problem that their cable TV no longer worked. Normally, in a situation like this, we would just call up the cable company and they would send someone out to fix whatever was wrong, but as a rule, I would first go up into the attic where the cable box was, and make sure the connections were tight. If they weren’t, and they sometimes were loose, I would tighten them down, save the cable guys a service call, and make the resident very happy by not having to wait.
For this particular instance, as usual, I crawled up the ladder into the attic, turned on the lights, located approximately where the apartment was, and began moving toward the box.
It was always a challenge walking up there because the apartment complex had recently gotten new insulation blown in, and walking in an attic always means stepping on the narrow 2 x 4 beams to move around on. Not easy during the best of times, but with new insulation covering everything, it was truly difficult.
So I gingerly stepped lightly trying to find the beams, making sure my foot was firmly planted before moving to the next beam, and on and on.
As I made my way slowly towards the cable box, stepping on beam after beam, I was also grabbing the overhead trusses with my hands just for a bit more balance.So it was like, grab, step step, grab, step step.
This worked out just fine until I miscalculated one of the grabs slightly. My hand didn't catch a truss correctly, my weight shifted funny, and in a total instinctive reaction, I automatically put my foot down right there, square in the middle of a pile of insulation.
I tried to reach the next beam with my other foot, but missed it completely, and I grabbed quickly for another truss to hold onto, but my foot sank deep, and in all that insulation, it felt like I was walking through deep mud!
All at once, my floor gave way, and I plunged feet first through the ceiling of a strange apartment unit, landing with a big THUD, insulation falling around me like snow. At that exact moment, a strange male voice from the other room called out, “Who’s there?” and without missing a beat, I responded, “It’s me, Dale, maintenance, I just dropped in!”
No truer words have ever been spoken as I literally HAD just dropped in, drywall hanging from the ceiling, insulation covering everything, and me standing there in a strange living room suddenly wondering how long I was going to keep this job.
The resident came out from the other room and nearly had a cardiac arrest seeing me standing there underneath a huge gaping hole, as I looked back at him with a sheepish grin completely covered in dust and insulation, apologizing profusely, and trying to find a hole to crawl into.
The moral of this story is, this is the time of year for getting things out of storage places, particularly attics. Be doubly careful about where you put your feet, and if possible, grab on to an overhead beam or truss just for that extra measure of support.
Always make sure it is well lighted, and be doubly sure to be on firm footing at all times, on beams or laid down flooring, because if you aren’t, the chances are that you might also be just dropping in!