The ropes set up for the morning’s descent slid across the glass windows of the Kodak Tower as tiny butterflies of anxiety fluttered in Kathy’s stomach. She stepped back, wondering whether this was a good idea, the harness and carabiners making her movements awkward. She’d never rappelled down anything, much less a building in downtown Rochester.
Earlier that morning, Kathy sat at her desk preparing to interview for a managerial position while sipping a coffee loaded with six espresso shots. She’d barely slept the night before and needed the energy to focus. Fifteen minutes before the interview, her phone rang.
“Is this Kathy Henry? I’m calling from the Boy Scouts of America.”
Great. A telemarketer. Kathy was about to cut the woman off when she continued,
“We have an opening for the rappelling event at the Kodak Tower today. Are you free to stop over this afternoon?”
Kathy almost dropped the phone. Each year, the Boy Scouts organized a fundraiser where people who donated could rappel off a different building in the Rochester, NY. Her company sponsored the event and several peopled participated. Kathy called about it two months ago, but there hadn’t been any openings.
“Yes! I’d love to. What do I need to do?”
“Wear soft-soled shoes, no loose-fitting clothing and no capes.” The woman chuckled. “I love saying that.”
Kathy laughed and asked, “When does it start?”
“Be at the Kodak by 11:00 for a quick training. The event will start at noon.”
“Great! I’ll be there.”
A minute later, the phone rang again. Her interview.
Once the interview was over, she raced home to change. While driving, Kathy thought about the past year. After having her daughter, she struggled with her weight. Fed up with the way she felt, Kathy started an eating program and exercise regimen that worked. One year later and seventy pounds lighter, she felt like Wonder Woman.
Now that she had accomplished one goal, she was ready to do more.
At the building, an instructor guided them inside where they put on the harnesses and helmets. The equipment felt awkward over her shoulders and around her thighs and Kathy was glad that she’d decided to wear her spandex capris.
Once they had their equipment on, they went to the top floor where they practiced rappelling from large tripods. Although she was nervous, the caffeine from her morning coffee kept her bouncing with energy.
On the roof, Kathy was clipped into the ropes. She climbed over the edge, her feet resting on the concrete at the corner of the building. For the first time, anxiety threatened to overwhelm her. She was hanging off the side of a building. Kathy wondered about her own sanity. She took a deep breath and grabbed the rope behind her. Kathy pulled up to give it some slack and clicked the button on the device to lower her down. The first time was startling and she dropped with a jerk. Kathy let out a small yelp as she imagined her body splattered upon the pavement below.
She took another deep breath, pulled the rope up and clicked the device. This time it wasn’t so bad. Although she moved slowly, Kathy was coming down the side of the building. Once she got to the middle of the building, there were people inside who waved and cheered her on even though she couldn’t hear them. It gave her courage to continue.
Just then a gust of wind knocked her from the cement pillar. Her feet landed on the glass windows as she braced herself, worried that she might have cracked something. She looked up to see the frightened expressions of the people inside. They’d watched the wind move her body like a marionette. Their concern helped her find the will to keep going. She crept back to the pillar and continued to go down.
She was five stories from the bottom when another gust of wind twirled her around completely. Although she was scared, Kathy forced herself to untangle so she could continue. It took a few minutes, but she focused on moving the ropes rather than looking down. She could hear people talking and cheering from the ground.
Once she was untangled, Kathy continued her descent. When her feet touched the ground, the realization of what she’d just accomplished hit her. Looking up at the Tower looming above her, a glow of pride blossomed in her chest. She’d done it!
For her next adventure, skydiving.
This was written about a dear friend of mine who is truly fearless. For more information about this event, click https://www.firstgiving.com/event/21storiesforscouts/2018
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