Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Up, Up And Away


Today I read with some interest, that The Freedom Tower in Lower Manhattan has now become the city's tallest building. The structure has risen out of the ashes of The World Trade Centre disaster and once completed will stand 110 stories and over 1,300 feet high.
It looks impressive,iconic and defiant
as it is meant to.
Now I love skyscrapers.
I always have.
However I am truly terrified of heights, and cannot even climb a ten foot ladder  to paint the outside of our bedroom windows !
I inherited my fear from my mother, who when faced with a steep slope or hillside view would enter what could only be described as a frozen catatonic state, which was characterised by a great deal of crying and moaning coupled with a somewhat theatrical sit down wherever she felt safest.
This fear, which as children we loved to take the mickey out of, has only ever affected me once when I was "up" a skyscraper. 
It wasn't up The Empire State, or at the "Top of the Rock" (The Rockerfeller Centre for those that don't know) or up the US Steel building in Pittsburgh..no I had a full blown anxiety attack whilst on the Observation Deck up the Space Needle in Seattle




It was a grey, windy and wet day when I walked out onto the Space Needle's saucer itself. Within seconds, and out of nowhere I was literally overcome with the awful sense that I was falling and without holding onto the low guard rail, I think I would have collapsed onto the floor.
For an absolute age, I  could not move a muscle, not one, and it was only because of the kind intervention of a middle aged Japanese lady who must have taken pity on me, a strange young man shaking quietly in the rain , that I was saved. She came over, asked me something in Japanese then grim faced took my hand firmly and led me back inside where she sat me on a chair and fussed around me like a mother hen
If she had not intervened, I think I would have been still there
awful....awful 


Funny what you are afraid of.....
and what's my favourite film,?
The Towering Inferno
Go Figure?

42 comments:

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  2. Another thing we share in common - my worst experience was doing my Confined Spaces Rescue certification and having to climb the "INSIDE" of a 4 foot wide, 70 foot tower in full rescue gear (inclusive of Breathing apparatus).

    I resolved to "NOT LOOK DOWN" as I climbed both ways inside that tower.

    ps - half-way up I knocked my hard hat off my head and had to go back down and retrieve it. I made the test just inside the maximum allowed time!

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  3. What a sweetheart that woman was to look out for you like that. I don't do balconies too well... it's only a smidgeon of the gripped state you describe and it's none too comfortable, so I can't even imagine.

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  4. I hate heights too but will be visiting New York next year so will have to toughen up or stay down. I've been on the London Eye three times & loved it but my poor niece had to lie down on the floor under the little bench !

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  5. I've never been up a skyscraper. My house in Brighton has 4 floors; Does that count?

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  6. Not fussed about heights but can't deal with small spaces.

    Mr H and I once ONCE mind you, stupidly crawled into a 'cave' type hole in Hastings. Touristy type thing you know....

    Anyway the chirpy guide said we'd need to lower our heads...which meant we and half a dozen other numpties shuffled along legs painfully bent, shoulders near our kneecaps and with our chins stabbing into our chests, you know what I mean...

    It was a truly sickening experience. Felt awful and ended up in a breathless lather.

    Rather be up in the air thank you than down in the ground.

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  7. sounds horrible - I'd love to know what she said to you (in japanese) - I have a weird vertigo thing that only affects me when I have my back to a height... I am ok if I can see the drop in front of me but if the drop is behind me I start swaying....
    here are some vertiginous photos of our local TV trasnmitter! Emley Moor Mast

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  8. A ballon pilot I know is scared of heights, but anything over 2000 feet he is comfortable with. You quite often get Japanese ladies at over 2000 feet, which explains the saying, "There's a nip in the air today." (please don't report me...)

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  9. I get vertigo up a step ladder John, so don't worry about it, and I never go up more than two flights of stairs without a parachute.

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  10. What a truly lovely woman, firstly for noticing and secondly for reaching out and assisting a stranger.

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  11. We should all be very careful with ladders and never become complacent. We had a young neighbour who fell off a ladder while checking his gutters - broken back and wheelchaired forever. Then the fifty year old electrician who used to come in our pub - fell off a ladder at work then also to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. My own brother - Paul - fell off a ladder at work and broke his hip - a definite factor in his premature death some years later. No - no matter how many times you go up ladders you should never become blase about it. Take care!

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  12. I have no problem with heights but Jenny has. When we went up the World Trade Center in 1996, Jenny refused to go out on the roof because it was too scary.

    I do have a claustrophobic tendency though. I feel most uncomfortable in small spaces and narrow corridors or under low ceilings.

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  14. YP
    I PROBABLY know your friend who fell off the ladder.. i suspect he came to our spinal unit

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  15. Jerry is also terrified of heights (he won't even attempt the Space Needle). I grew up on the 17th floor of an apartment building with an open balcony in NY. I love heights... but I have an almost crippling fear of stepping off from or onto the top of a ladder, which Jerry doesn't mind at all. Go figure.

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  16. I am not afraid of heights fortunately but the thing that does seem strange is the draw of the sea when standing on the edge of a cliff I feel that I should jump, rather weird that!? Maybe I need a Japanese woman at my shoulder.

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  17. I totally understand. I climbed the Tybee Island lighhouse in Georgia. When I reached the actual light area, I could not force myself to enjoy the view from the outside rail. Going down was much easier than going up.

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  18. I can remember freaking out when standing on the glass floor of the CN tower in Toronto and looking down... not a good move.

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  19. I'm afraid of heights. I'd rather pet a rabid raccoon than go up a ladder.
    Jane x
    PS I have been in the glass elevator on the outside of Toronto's CN Tower...thank God there is a bar when you arrive at the top.

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  20. Have enjoyed catching up on your posts (Working Hard is a beaut).

    As for heights, as long as there is a bottom and sides, it's all good. Though I remember my first scare as as a teen when I got stuck abseiling with school. I didn't know I was afraid at all until then. They got me down by promising a kiss from James Wright (who I totally fancied in grammar school). Almost worth the embarrassment and getting stuck that.

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  21. I was totally blase about height for much of my life. Then one day I saw I could not look down over edges of tall things. So, I don't.

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  22. I must confess to being a bit disappointed. Miss Chef and I are planning a trip to the Pacific Northwest next year. If not for that mothering Japanese woman, we might have met up!

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  23. I am usually okay with heights, but not if i need to depend upon my own balance to keep my safe (e.g., tightrope walking, or walking on a 2×4 with no railing).

    I'm always careful on ladders and don't like standing on the top step at all. I do stand on the top step of my step ladder, but i'm usually leaning against something, like the wall or house, so i'm okay.

    I love looking at the view from on high, though.

    Bless that kind woman who helped you, John.

    megan

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  24. I do not know how anybody could enjoy heights, but there are some of those thrill seekers around.

    I visited NY a few weeks ago and saw that new tower. I don't think I would ever want to work there for many reasons. However, it is beautiful.

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  25. I don't like elevators, tight places or being surrounded by large crowds of people.
    Heights are euphoric for me....

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  26. Well that has cheered me up since we're planning to try getting to the top of the Stratosphere in Vegas in the next day or two!

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  27. Afraid of deep water. Heights don't bother me, so long as I don't have to hang over the edge or stand on a 20 foot ladder, I'm ok if I can have a railing or something sturdy to support me. But deep water? No no no. I'm ok on a boat (a big one), or even in a pool (I know I can get to the other side or the shallow end) but drop me in a lake or the ocean, I'd sink like a rock.

    Here's the best part John...one of my favorite movies ever? The Poseidon Adventure!

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  28. I think the scariest place for heights has to be the Grand Canyon Skywalk. My daughter went there and walked out onto the transparent overlook 4,000 feet over the canyon floor. And PAID for the privilege! How insane is that!

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  29. Jane and Chris mentioned the glass floor at the CN tower. It is just a small patch you can stand on, but someone once told me the entire floor up there is plexi-glass but they covered most of it with carpet because so many people are terrified by it. Not sure how true that is, but it sounds good.

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  30. I am somewhat afraid of heights. But I am terrified of water.
    I can take a bath or shower. I can ride in a boat.
    But get me in water over my knees and I can hardly breathe.
    Go figure.
    Hope you're having a good evening, John!

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  31. To lessen the cost of painting my 2-story house a few years ago I rented some scaffolding. The plan was that I would paint the house as high as I could and hire to paint what I could not reach. The scaffolding was only about 5 ft off the ground but once I finshed a section I could NOT come back down the stairs. I was on the side of the house hidden from the street and sat on the platform until a neighbor came home and helped me down.
    Hugs and kisses to you and Mabel.

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  32. I'm OK as long as I have something solid to hang onto. Climbing up the bare part of Stone Mountain (huge granite mtn) in Atlanta, however, I just had to stop. Through the tree part was OK. My 3.5 year old daughter ended up taking my hand and walking me to the top!!!

    Nancy in Iowa

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  33. Funny you should say that!See my 'Babs' post. Hope you're having a good week.....everytime I see Mabel's (hope she's making a good recovery) name, I think of Torvill and Dean....it's all relative, I suppose.

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  34. I`m not overly fond of heights myself.

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  35. I have to clean the gutters. I just have to. But, I'm scared to go the three steps up the ladder. Oh yes, I sympathize.

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  36. Perhaps your favorite film feeds the fear.
    I love the rush of standing on the glass floor in the CN Tower in Toronto. And I found the World Trade Center to be quite relaxing. I could get a sky high view of Manhattan and still have a solid building below my feet. It still seems unreal that it isn't there anymore.

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  37. I do not like heights either but can manage and did 'do' the Empire State Bldg and the Seattle Needle too! I DO NOT go near the edge and look over and down....I would probably get dizzy!
    You aren't alone John and what about that lovely lady who helped you!

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  38. Thank God for that Japanese woman! The Blogosphere would not be the same without you...

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  39. I totally empathise John, I am terrified of heights too. Reading the comments, it's interesting to see how many others feel the same way.

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  40. I share your fear...it's come on as I've got older...but I always try and challenge it...usually with unfortunate results! What a lovely lady to have done that for you...

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  41. I have double vision in my peripheral so am quite done in at any height. I never go out on the observation deck of the Space Needle but about had a coronary when handed a five dollar charge for a cup of coffee.

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