Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ferr Enough

A number of years ago I read a short story called "God is an Iron". I have no idea what the story was about, but I remember loving it. And I still recall the title (author, too: Spider Robinson).

The obvious question is why he would consider God an iron. His reasoning? Glad you asked, dear Reader. He said that if someone who commits a felony is called a felon, and someone who indulges in gluttony is a glutton, then God must be an iron. As a Baha'i, I lovingly disagree. I would say that God is the Most Great Iron.

By the way, I stopped in a used bookstore on my way here to write this article, already knowing what my subject was. I had gone in to drop off a box of books. Part of my paring down as I get ready to move (hence, be forewarned that I won't be writing as much in the next few weeks as you have come to expect, sorry). On my way in to the store, there was a table of books on special, and the one on the top of the pile was called, and I kid you not, "The Magnetic Pope". I just about doubled over in laughter. (Oh, the store is called Globo Sapiens, which I think is one of the best names for a bookstore in a long time). I just sort of had this image of the person in question being stuck like a refrigerator magnet against a stainless steel God.

Anyways, a few weeks ago I had the pleasure of breakfast with a dear friend of mine (thanks Mark). We were talking about his pioneering experience in Dominca, and how he watched a typhoon grow into a hurricane, later to be named Katrina. As this was his first major storm down in that area, he naturally turned to the Writings for solace. What did he find? Guidance about what should happen if a pioneer were to die at their post.

A number of years ago, I was working on the restoration project and cleaning project at the Temple in Wilmette. It was so much fun. One of the main jobs that fell to me was to spray the acid that was to clean the building. It was very powerful stuff and quite dangerous, but we took many precautions and neutralized it before it went down the drains. Totally safe and environmentally nifty after that. Before that, however, not too nice.

It was the middle of the summer, blazingly hot, and I was stuck working in the direct sun. Oh, and it's not that my boss (whose initials were David Hadden) was mean to me or anything, it's just that I was the one with the highest resistence to heatstroke and acid. Ergo, I got the fun job.

I would get into a bathing suit, and the put on a goretex outfit, covered by an blue plastic acid-proof suit, with a respirator and a hard hat. They would put rubber gloves and rubber boots on me and duct tape the seams shut, so that nothing got through. Worked pretty well, but my field of vision was practically nothing, and I wobble walked like the Pillsbury doughboy. Oh, and then they put on my harness and I was expected to repel down the ropes on the side of the building while spraying this acid stuff everywhere from a high pressure sprayer. Tons of fun. No, really, it was.

Well, one afternoon, on a particularly hot day, my ropes jammed and I was hanging there at an alarming tilt, unable to move. I squeezed my arm to click on my radio and tried to shout loud enough to be heard, so that I could ask for help. Not too easy with the respirator covering my mouth.

And still I hung there. Dangling. With the pressure building up in the spray gun. I could feel the vibration of the motor as it continued to build pressure from far on the other side of the building. While dangling. And getting hotter and hotter in the sun. As I dangled. Unable to get to my caribiner and free myself. Did I mention that I was dangling?

While I was in that position, with little else to do, and little else to look at, I took a glance at the building.

Have you ever noticed that there are various quotes from the Writings written above the doorways at the Temple in Wilmette? Well there are. One above each of the doors on the outside, and one more above each of them on the inside. 18 quotes in total. Littloe gems from the Writings.

And which one did I get? "I have made death..."

In my limited field of vision, that was all that I could read.

Let's just say that I was not amused.

But it makes a great story now.

1 comment:

  1. Ha - I remember many a time roping over that same side - and would internally shrug and think: ah yes.
    From the guy who made it to the hospital doing that very same acid wash ;)