Monday, October 31, 2011

Trust Issues

I've got 'em.  Case in point:  jumping off a telephone pole.  For some reason, I had to in high school.  I went to this hoity-toity private school, and every fall we kicked off the year with a "Leadership Weekend," where we were forced into uncomfortable situations in order to bond with our equally awkward, sweaty peers.  One year, we went to a ropes course, where we did trust activities like falling backward into the arms of our waiting classmates and other stupid things.

We started by linking arms into a big human knot and then untangling ourselves.  Like Twister, but with forty-eight other people instead of colorful dots.  No one should have to get that up close and personal with their peers, just sayin'.  Especially when those peers are teenagers who are awkward and smelly, and all you can think about is if the guy whose shoulder you are straddling thinks your butt looks cute in those jeans.

Not okay.

Then we did the falling backwards bit, and out of forty-eight classmates--well, we dropped a few.

So, I wasn't feeling terribly confident in my peers when the time came to don the climbing gear, haul ass up a forty-foot telephone pole (sorry, I should clarify:  a forty-foot tapered telephone pole that was waving noticeably in the wind), stand on the six-inch diameter top, turn around, and jump the hell off.  The goal of this was to ring a bell about six feet away from the jumping-off point.  And also not to die.

I missed the bell.  I also didn't give a crap.  My fellow classmates hauled the skinny little rope attached to my butt-harness tight after only an eternity of free fall, and for some reason held me aloft with my feet about five inches from the ground.  At that point, I really did not want to be in the harness of death, and promptly went about removing myself from it.  The "guide" was not happy that I didn't wait for him, especially since I was still sort of dangling there.  I was not happy I didn't take the opportunity to tell him to suck it.

Then I went down the zipline about twelve times, which was awesome.  No, there was no harness attaching me to anything.  Yes, it was fast.  I suppose I could have died just as easily on the zipline as on the telephone pole.  The difference, of course, is that on the zipline, it was my own hands gripping the handle, and not my own hands hoping they are not going to be dropped by people who needed calculators to add and also were more worried about whether the guy/girl hips were brushing theirs as they held the rope thought their butt looked cute in those jeans than preserving the life of a nerd.  I think you'll agree that is a crucial difference.

But in the end, I'm a survivor.  Which means I hardly cursed (aloud) at all, and went on to write about the experience on all of my college applications in some inspiring way which landed me some pretty sweet financial aid offers.

(True:  Hormone-driven, sweaty teenagers and abject terror mix potently.  Some get smellier.  Others get pregnant.  I got the former.)


  1. Dana, I'm glad you didn't get knocked up at the teen leadership course. Or get killed. Either of those situations would be most unfortunate.

    True: I recently came across a blog post about a teenage girl from my home state of Utah who fell from a zip line and broke most of her bones. You can check it out here if you want--

    I've been to leadership classes for my job where they made us do the stupid fall-backward-into-the-arms-of-your-team-members-to-learn-about-trust exercise, and also made us build towers out of balloons and make enclosures to keep eggs from breaking when dropped. I don't recall learning anything about teamwork, but I got pretty good at pointless crafts.

    Great post, by the way!

  2. Oh, man, that is scary. That poor girl!

    My first job was at a summer camp--I'm a pro at pointless crafts!

  3. Hey. Some of those sweaty peers were probably Kolin, Sam and Karen. I think that might have been worth it!