He Is Too Old To Jump Off The Roof

jagged-rock
One of the great joys of aging is realizing you are questioning participating in activities that never bothered you before because you never worried about getting hurt because if you did you weren’t concerned with recovery times or mysterious aches and pains.

The sane is true regarding falling jumping down/off from places. I cannot confirm nor deny that I might have jumped from cliffs into lakes or from roofs into swimming pools.

What I can confirm is that when I was 37 I had to jump off of the roof of a house because it was part of my job.

About General Contractors and Project Managers

Some years back I worked as a project manager for a general contractor. One of my responsibilities was to visit prospective customers and talk to them about what kind of work they wanted done on their homes.

During a typical day I drove all over L.A. County and talked to people of all races, colors, creeds and economic backgrounds.  The conversations ranged from bathroom/kitchen remodels to room additions, roofing and concrete work.

At the end of each appointment I would present a written estimate for the work they wanted done and answer any questions they might have. Certain kinds of work were very simple to bid upon. All it required was a few measurements and if ma and pa homeowner didn’t change the scope of the work I could tell them exactly what it would cost.

If everyone was happy I would draw up a contract stating costs, time frame and responsibilities and then serve as the contact between the contractor and the customer.

Most of the time I really enjoyed the work.  Every day was different and I found some of the people to be endlessly fascinating. If you want to learn about people take a job where you come into their home and you find out all sorts of interesting things.

Construction can be a very lucrative business. Good contractors who do good work and fulfill their promises make good money, but so do the bad ones.

Don’t believe me?

Ask around and you’ll hear lots of stories, some of which actually happened. That is only partly tongue-in-cheek. I have seen big mistakes be committed by both customers and contractors.

The customer may always be right but some of them would do better if they understood the best way to protect their investment was not to try and help get work done during their off hours. The DIY shows make some of the  work look much easier for a novice to do than it really is.

I could tell you about customers who wreaked havoc by trying to cut and lay their own tile or those who went nuts when they saw the finished product. I made a point to make sure every one of my customers picked out their own tile/paint/appliances and signed off upon it.

That still didn’t prevent them from screaming because it didn’t look the way they hoped it would.

It pays to have a thick skin in that business because sometimes you make a mistake and you have to pay for it and sometimes they may make a mistake and getting yelled at is how you’ll have to pay for it.

About Broken Ladders & Roofs

Remember when I told you sometimes age makes you rethink your willingness to engage in activities that might lead to injury? Well here is where we tie it all in a nice bow.

One bright and sunny day I was sent out to give some estimates to homeowners who were thinking about replacing their roofs. I didn’t like the roofing calls very much.

Since I didn’t have too many of them I didn’t carry a ladder with me. Most of the time I borrowed one from the prospect or used basic math to determine how many big squares of roofing material would be needed.

It is really not hard to do. If you want to learn how to do it yourself you can read about it here. But for those who don’t want a long explanation you measure the ground dimensions of the house, estimate the pitch and convert square footage to big squares.

The first roofing call of that bright and sunny day takes me out to Santa Clarita.  September in Los Angeles is hot and I can promise you that it is even hotter on the roof.

Ten minutes after I climb up on the roof of the first house I am drenched. It is over a 100 on the ground and I am the guy who has to get closer to the sun. Sweat is pouring down my face and no matter how many times I mop my brow I am soaked seconds later.

I take the measurements hit the truck, wipe my face and grab a swig of water. I take a few more minutes to write up an estimate , knock on the doorbell and present it to the lady of the house.

She invites me in and tells me I have to stand in her kitchen because she doesn’t want me to sweat on her furniture. I smile at her and wonder if she remembers that I was dry and presentable before I climbed onto her roof.

“There is a gas station down the street. I would rather you don’t dirty our towels.”

I smile at her and leave. I understand she might be uncomfortable having a strange man in her home but part of me is irritated about how poorly I have been treated.

******

Twenty minutes later I am at the final call of the day. It is another roofing estimate and I am setting up the ladder I borrowed so that I can take my measurements and get a sense of the condition of the roof.

This place is in poor condition and I take note of two holes in the roof.

I hear kids laughing and look to the side and see teens playing basketball at the church next door. They notice me staring at them and watch me walk across the roof to where I left the ladder.

As I climb over the side and start to lower myself onto the ladder I feel it shift and quickly move back on to the roof.

It is a good thing because that sucker collapses on itself and falls to the ground. The kids see this and start laughing.

“What is he going to do now? He is too old to jump off of the roof.”

I ignore the laughter and ponder options. I am embarrassed and don’t want to call the office or alert the homeowner so I sit down on the roof and try to decide if I can shinny down the drainpipe, lower myself off or jump to the tree next to it.

The tree is about 4.5 feet and I am certain if I take three steps back I’ll make it to the tree but decide against it because I’ll have to take a faceful of branches.

It doesn’t make sense to try to jump on the roof of the house next door. No telling what happens if people are inside and I can’t see any way to get down.

So I decide I have to jump off of the roof, but figure the easiest way is to lower myself.  Tape measure shows it is about 15 feet so if I can find a place to hold onto I can lower myself and almost halve the distance.

It almost worked as I hoped. I found a part that wasn’t covered in tile, threw my clipboard over the side, lowered myself and dropped into a bush that did  a very fine job of camouflaging the thorns it hid inside.

The net result was I managed not to scrape the hell out of my body and didn’t break any bones. Even better than that was I woke up the next day and discovered I didn’t feel any new mystery aches or pains so I call that a win.

Never did see those kids again, but if I had I would have told them I wasn’t too old to jump off of the roof.

 

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