Reader Interview: Cliffhanging

Cliffhanging for real
Cliffhanging for real
Everyone has taken a risk or two. I have a couple of stories that end with the question “How exactly am I still alive?”

How about you? What is the craziest, riskiest, most exciting, or most over-the-top thing you’ve ever done…and why did you do it?

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144 responses to “Reader Interview: Cliffhanging”

  1. Janet Avatar

    One of the worst cliff hanger moments of my life was last summer, when I was camping with friends. We were hanging our food bags up a tree so that bears wouldn’t cause trouble when the tree snapped and seriously injured one of us. We were waiting for hours for medical help, because there was no cellphone service, and threre was a chance our friend could be paralyized. Luckily help did arrive, and our friend wasn’t paralyized, but there were about 5 ambulances waiting for us, and my friend had to be air-lifted. I remember spending most of the evening shakeing from adrenaline and worrying about my friends.

  2. Lee Avatar

    Survived (and walked away from) a 3 story drop. I was attempting to repel down the side of a friend’s apartment building and mis-threaded my rope. Fortunately when I landed my body was loose and I rolled when I hit. I was laughing it off but my friends were scared to death (it was a few of us doing it. I was the only one had the mishap). I didn’t walk away unscathed though. Ankles and knees were sore as hell for a couple weeks after. I didn’t even sprain much less break anything. God had my back that day. 🙂

  3. Debby Avatar

    The riskiest thing I’ve ever done was marry a man I’d known for three days – but 38 years later, we’re still happy and still together – although we agreed to never tell our kids about it until they were married adults.

    The scariest thing was when a riot broke out at a New Year’s party I went to – I hid under a corner table until the police came and imagined having to call my folks from jail. I was underage and worried I’d be arrested for just being here. But the cops were cool and just let me leave – my parents never found out.

  4. David Marshall Avatar
    David Marshall

    I was 16 years old, and on our school camp. We were camping at what was then usually known as Ayers Rock (it’s usually called Uluru these days, because that’s the Aboriginal name for it). Imagine a red rock the size of a mountain, rising up out of the red sands dotted with clumps of spiky dark-green spinifex grass.

    We’d just finished dinner, when about a dozen Land Rovers came roaring down the dirt road, all with yellow flashing lights on top. They all stopped at a campsite within easy walking distance of ours. A couple of the guys went over to see what was going on.

    They came running back, and said a dingo had taken a baby. The Land Rovers were full of rangers, and they wanted volunteers to help in the search.

    So I grabbed a torch (flashlight), and since I didn’t want to face a dingo without some sort of weapon, I grabbed the souvenir I’d bought earlier that day from the local Aborigines – a hunting boomerang. Of course, I had no idea how to throw the thing, and probably couldn’t have hit the broad side of Uluru if I’d tried. But at least I had a weapon.

    Okay, so I had a stick.

    I don’t know how long we searched. I do know the batteries in my torch started dying. I do know the two young ladies who were with me were unarmed. And none of us were too eager to meet a wild animal in the dark. But we kept going. Because a baby’s life was at stake.

    Unfortunately, you know how this story ended.

  5. Megan Avatar

    Hm. I did a lot of risky things when I was in my teens and twenties. Not sure how many of them I would really want to publicize. But I thought of one thing that might qualify.

    I used to love to go out dancing, in my college days. I didn’t have a car, so I would take the bus down to Sixth Street in Austin, TX around 10-ish, which is when the clubs opened. The clubs stayed open until 4am back then, and unfortunately the buses stopped running sometime around midnight. So, I would walk home. I lived in various places during college, but most of them were pretty far from downtown–it was usually about an hour’s walk. And walking through those parts of town between 2-4 am was pretty risky. But I just put myself in a “don’t mess with me or you’ll regret it” attitude, walked with confidence, and avoided any place where someone could ambush me. I never was mugged, raped, or even accosted. Not once.

    Why did I do it? Because I didn’t have a car and I didn’t want to impose on friends. I usually went out by myself, so I didn’t have a designated driver. I was poor, so I didn’t have money for a taxi. It seemed like the only choice left unless I wanted to stay home–and that wasn’t a good option in my mind.

    I’ve had multiple brushes with death, but I don’t know if those count–it wasn’t really a risk I took myself, just things that happened to me that could have killed me and didn’t. I also gave birth to three kids with natural childbirth, using a midwife every time–does that count? I moved from my hometown to Kansas City, MO when I was 18 and only knew one person there (and he was a boyfriend who had already dumped me). I moved from KC, MO to Texas when I was 19 even though I didn’t know anyone there but my parents. In 1997 I left everything I knew to move across the country with my second husband and two young children because my husband got a new job–and despite the life I have built here, I have regretted that decision ever since. Do those moves count? The first two moves felt like positive changes, the last one felt like I didn’t have a choice. All of them had a huge impact on my life.

  6. Stephanie Black Avatar

    I grew up on a pony stud in Australia, and had a brush with death when I was 16 during the routine evening feeding rounds.
    A couple of days before this, my mother had taken on a pony colt who had been abused by the people who leased him previously. My mum is a great horsewoman so this was the fairly valuable colt’s last chance to get over his trauma, before the owner gelded him. Mum worked with him and he seemed to be getting better, so she allowed me to pour the feed in over the fence while she saw to the other ponies. I saw his water container had been spilled and decided to risk getting in the yard to right it for him while he was distracted eating.
    Next thing I knew I was flat on my back on the other side of the yard. There were huge square teeth chomping near my face, and the only thing between me and the pony’s hard hooves aiming for my head was my leg! I was holding 250kg of screaming angry colt away from my face with one leg that just happened to wedge between his front legs when I fell! Lucky my legs were a couple of centimeters longer than his.
    Eventually I got him off me by screaming at him, which frightened the living daylights out of him so he bolted. Needless to say Mum sent him back to the breeder to be gelded the next day.
    And yes, he did end up leading a productive life as a teenagers pony clubber after he was gelded 🙂

  7. Danielle Hoffmann Avatar
    Danielle Hoffmann

    I was on a summer camp trip to independence rock. We were hiking around the monumental mountain, until i realized that in order to maintain my sanity as a good-natured person, i had to climb it… myself. Believe me, i never climbed anything that ginormous before, but in order to prove i was participating in a group and not disobeying my counselors, I had to climb that damn rock!

    I made it with great difficulty, and of course when we had to climb down i was short of breath, and i almost couldn’t. So to make it even more treacherous. I slid down the rock and broke my back while doing so. Not fun. But i made it.

  8. Holly Avatar

    Even though I never joined a circus, or ever intended to, one of the riskiest things I’ve ever done was trick riding and Roman riding. I could hang off a horse on one foot; I could ride two horses, one foot on the back of each of them, while holding two sets of reigns; I could stand on one horse, flip down and then back up — just crazy stuff.

  9. bkgain Avatar

    In the summer before Desert Shield/Desert Storm, 1989, upon arriving at work I barely stepped in the hangar door and immediately found a toolbox thrust into my hands. My shift supervisor clutched a clipboard to his chest, double checked it, and hustled me outside to the flightline. A number of other very close to panicked US Air Force NCO’s and officers ushered me out to the crew truck expressing the utmost importance that I get this job fixed, buttoned up, and signed off as good-to-go inside of 20 minutes. Failing to do so meant the US would have a diplomatic incident on their hands. Not good!

    I didn’t even attend roll call, which in the military is almost unheard of during peacetime. What was happening? The base had an unexpected emergency landing, a foreign visitor: “the” Russian Antonov An-225 Mriya was on American soil and their primary air-to-air/air-to-ground radio was inoperative – because of the plane’s weight it doesn’t have the luxury of multiple system redundancies that US planes boast. A single radio failure was a serious problem for them.

    Necessary minutia for sense of scale and scope of problem: Weighing in at 1,411,000 lbs (or 640 metric tons) the Mriya is a one-of -a-kind strategic airlifter capable of carrying a 105 ton Russian space shuttle on its back or carry oversized payloads in its vast cargo bay (6 Greyhound busses, 2 abreast, anyone?). At a height of 59.3 ft (18.1 m) it’s easy to feel dwarfed standing in its imposing shadow. It is larger and heavier than the US’s version, the C-5 Galaxy (at 550,000 lbs gross – counting the 2600 lbs of interior and exterior paint!). The Mriya has 6 wing mounted engines to a C-5’s 4, she also has an impressive landing gear train to support the massive weight.
    C-5 Fun Facts

    On with the story: Rather than feel my head spin with all the abrupt pressure from the higher-ups and worried international visitors around me, I experienced that world-going-into-slow-motion sensation as my brain shifted into high gear. Once they briefed me on the situation I tried to alleviate their concerns with the confidence that the job will be done with time to spare. After you’ve done a number of jobs of troubleshooting, routine and preventative maintenance, time compliance upgrades, and the hands-on training of others you get a pretty good idea of how long certain jobs take to do. These folks also knew they could count on me to tell them if there might be any bad news, the why of it, and what options we had available to correct it – in this business withholding or watering down the truth only gets people killed. So, out of 3 other airmen on shift before me, each trained to do the same job I did, I had built up a strong level of trust, know-how, and ability that they selected me as the go-to person for such a job. But they still felt the need to panic until they saw the plane taxi out and be on its way.

    The job was done in 10 minutes and we watched that big white bird taxi immediately toward the runway. Besides a lot of smiles, back pats, and shoulder squeezes my reward for a job well done under pressure was a verbal thanks from the DCM (Deputy Commander for Maintenance) and a brief paragraph highlighting the situation and events on my annual airman’s performance report (APR one year, EPR the next, go fig). Later, I also enjoyed dibs on other unique job requests.

    It is a uniquely gratifying feeling that I, a 27 yr old female “Buck” Sergeant (“3-srtiper”), had averted a diplomatic incident between the US and the (then) Soviet Union.

    Note: I had no idea at the time that the An-225 Mryia was the only working model of her kind.

    1. bkgain Avatar

      Looks like my 2 web sites didn’t print over. We try again.


      C-5 Fun Facts

  10. Betty Nearing Avatar
    Betty Nearing

    At the young age of 82, there isn’t much I have missed in doing something crazy, exciting, and over the top. My most exciting moment occurred two years ago — I submitted a short story to a publisher and it was accepted. I was beyond ecstatic. My very first submission.

    Craziest was probably riding a horse at 75 years old (and I have the photos to prove it) because my husband wanted me to go riding with him as part of a cruise package. My only time on a horse was at the age of 17 and that was for about five minutes. I even rode that gentle animal in the surf and loved every minute of it.

    The Most Over the Top experience was breaking into a house with my two girlfriends — we were 12 years old. We were acting as “spies” for our country during WWII and seriously believed we had to find out what the humming noise that emanated from the house was all about. We found a very expensive ham radio set, but we were too frightened to tell anyone. P.S. As a bunch of crazy girls we took time to jump on the beds.

  11. River Avatar

    I did the craziest thing of my whole life on the 6th of May this year, the day before my grandmother’s funeral. It could also be classified as the worst, and the best thing of my entire life. I made love with a married man. And then I did it again after work 4 days later. But we do crazy things for love, don’t we?
    I wish I didn’t love this man, for so many reasons. He’s much older than I am, he has a family who need him even more than I do and there is no future in this. It can only end one way- a lot of heartbreak- even if it ends quietly with no scandal.

  12. JM Avatar

    I read this post last night and because of the words, “How exactly am I still alive?”, I immediately thought of the death-defying feats I’ve managed to survive. Sylvia Browne says that we (as individual human beings) have five exit points in our lives. I have exceeded that by double, at least.

    I don’t seek risk, but I always find myself surviving the wrong end of it. When I was young, I actually put myself (and others) at risk by driving drunk in my teens. I voluntarily confronted my fear of heights at a 300′ cliff. I smoke. I’ve had a German point a 9mm at my face. I accidentally did a Super Man off the front end of a ten-speed at 35 mph before helmets were “in”. I wrecked a motorcycle as I came around the nose of a semi on a mountain road only to discover a jackass with a fifth-wheel trying to pass him in my lane. I’ve been perpendicular to highway traffic at 60 mph on an ice slicked Interstate.

    Personally, as far as this death-defying stuff goes, I feel I can’t be claimed by chance. I’ve experienced other challenges that also haven’t knocked me down. I have survived stage 4 cancer 15 years running. I’ve divorced two women since then because they couldn’t break me (like a horse) through dominance or subversion, respectively.

    If you’re asking what’s the hardest thing I’ve done, I have to say that it’s being the Best Good Friend to my Best Good Friend. It’s also the easiest thing I do. The clouds are filled with misunderstood communication (because we FEEL in two very different ways), storied pasts with sacred vows voluntarily broken, and strong wills. But the sunny days are articulate conversation, holding hands, and mutual understanding.

    Relationships pose the greatest risk and the greatest challenge for me, but they also promise the greatest reward. As I write this, I am reaping. *-)

  13. Frederick Gonzalez Avatar
    Frederick Gonzalez

    It was during World Expo. The Chinese government allowed only licensed taxis to take World Expo visitors from the premises, and the way the line was going, we were going to be there all night. A man approaches us and asks where we want to go. We give in, and walk with him a few blocks into a dark alley, while his friend pulls up and tells us all to hurry in before the police catch us. We’re still not sure if they’re going to kidnap us for ransom. Meanwhile, peril stalks us on another front, because the guy drives like a maniac and there were no seatbelts in the illegal taxi. We took several wrong turns, ostensibly to shake off the cops, and we didn’t relax until we were at the hotel.
    My mom tipped him 100 yuan to support the free market.

  14. Prue Avatar

    I love driving and a few years ago finally got what I’d always wanted: a sports car. Mazda MX5, soft top.
    It was like learning to drive all over again. It was great fun!
    Not only did I take it out on the motorway late at night to see if it really would get to 100mph, (not much of a risk as there was no traffic) I used to throw it at a very sharp bend on the way home – only at night so I could see the lights of any oncoming cars.
    One dark night, there was nothing coming and I really put my foot down. The car bucked and bounced in a way I’ve never experienced with any car before. The back started to turn and I had to fight to control the spin.
    No time to be scared as the trees approached. It straightened up in time and I drove off laughing. It was only next day I broke out into a sweat.
    Ought to know better at my age.
    Glad I did it though!
    Never again… 🙂

  15. Richard Howes Avatar

    The most dangerous stuff I’ve done?
    Horseback riding in the Nevada Spring mountains, on my own or with a GF, a 100 mile drive from the nearest town. Horseback 100 miles through Alabama wilderness. Compete and win a world championship in Cowboy Mounted Shooting. Get married the first time, face death via knife or poison and finally get divorced. Train horses that like to buck and kick. Hike through scotland to find ancient ruined castles such as Dun Ringill on Skye, Dun trotten, and the Hanovarian barracks in Geln Elg (which is a palendrome). Scuba dive among hammer head sharks and whale sharks and rays in the Georgia Aquarium. Raise two teenagers – ongoing. Stare into the lions mouth of public school administrators at severe risk of decapitation. Spend hours on the phone with AT&T customer service (a misnomer). Quit a high paying job and move half way across the country and try to make a new start writing novels for a living! The list goes on!

  16. Jae Avatar

    I’ll answer with most exciting – becoming a mother. It was my first child and I didn’t know what to expect. I took the birthing classes and the instructor would say “You’ll know when you’re in labor.” Hah, right.

    It was 7am on a weekend and I felt terrible. I wasn’t feeling any contractions, no pain in my lower back, none of the tell-tale signs that I was taught to look out for. My husband and I went to a local school’s plant sale to pick up some native trees, went to the hardware store to pick up a couple big bags of potting soil (these were bare-root trees), and made it home by ten. I was still feeling crappy but not any worse.

    By lunch, I was feeling a cramp in my stomach, which did not feel like a contraction (to all you mothers, you know what that feels like) and my neck hurt so I decided to take a shower. Now what I was told was if you feel pain during pregnancy, warm water helps you relax, but do NOT take a bath when you are in labor unless you are trying to SPEED UP the process.

    Forty minutes later, after a call to the hospital and an attempt at lunch, My husband was trying VERY hard not to speed all the way to the hospital, which was about a half-hour away, and I was DEFINITELY having contractions. I was literally an hour away from having my new son born in the car on a country road. That could have turned out quite badly (I had a couple complications during childbirth). Luckily he held on until the nurses could find me a room and a doctor! Did I mention I did this all drug-free? Fastest delivery ever, judging by the reaction from the doctor and nurses!

    And the adventures just don’t stop…the things a parent will do for their child!

  17. Michael Polk Avatar
    Michael Polk

    Since I am unable to even drive yet, nothing very risky has ever come across my path. There are a few instances that I did something stupid that I prefer not to discuss or even use in stories, but, as I said, I prefer not to discuss them. I actually think one of the most dangerous thing I’ve ever gotten into was playing dodge ball for gym class with a bunch of fifth graders and sixth graders who could’ve thrown for MLB. Yeah, they threw really hard. And I, who has very terrible hand-eye coordination and is a horrible catcher, was supposed to catch a ball thrown by the hardest thrower in the sixth grade. I jammed my finger, but I could have possibly sustained a serious head injury. After that, my mom didn’t want me playing dodge ball anymore, and I really loved playing the game. Sigh.

  18. Brianna Avatar

    I’ve done a good number of dumb and risky things, but if I had to choose the riskiest thing I’ve ever done that isn’t too personal, for me or other parties involved, it would have to be the time I pushed a girl out of the way of an oncoming minivan when I was 15.

    My cousin had met a new friend and had invited me to meet her, so we met up with her at our local library. After chatting there for a bit and when it started getting dark I invited them back to my place. We stopped off at my cousin’s house which was across the main highway from my apartment. On our way to my place we had to cross the highway again.

    The streetlight that was supposed to light the crosswalk we need to cross was out and no one could see us, so we almost got hit when we were caught in the center of the road between cars going both directions. What made it worse was that the new friend was wearing the most impractical shoes for walking with any speed.

    I started pushing her across the road because she was going dangerously slow, while my cousin ran on ahead to cross the highway, when we saw a white minivan coming for us. It was only a few blocks away and I pushed her faster. I don’t actually remember being hit, the last thing I recall seeing was the headlights bearing down on us.

    After that I woke up in the ambulance, asking if I was dreaming and when the EMT told me I’d been in an accident I asked if my cousin and new friend, whom I couldn’t remember the name of at the time, were okay. I was calm after I found out that my cousin was fine and the other girl not seriously hurt. I just tried not to lose consciousness again, but failed about half-way to the hospital.

    According to the police report, the minivan hit me going the speed limit (25 mph) and my head shattered the poor old lady’s windshield before I was thrown I think it was 15 feet, hit the blacktop and rolled for several more feet. Someone working at the gas station across the street had called it in, wish I knew who.

    The next time I woke up I was in a hospital bed, with my mom and cousins there with me. The other girl was on the bed next to mine, having sustained only a sprain, the girl and her mother thanking me over and over, calling me a ‘hero’ and a ‘guardian angel’. It was embarrassing and I felt like a fraud taking such praise because I couldn’t even specifically remember pushing the girl out of the way, even though that’s what she and my cousin said I did. I didn’t feel like a hero and I’ve always just chucked it up to reflex.

    I spent the next day picking pretty blue and clear chunks of safety glass out of my cranium, then having the surgery that would put a plate with 4 (or was it 6?) pins in my right knee and remove the little piece of one my leg bones that had broken off and was stabbing into my knee. I remember waking up briefly during the surgery, but decided to go back to sleep when I saw that they weren’t done (no I did not pass out, I’ve never been afraid of surgeries and have watched both of my c-sections).

    I had to wear a leg brace for 3-4 months. I detested the crutches and, being the rebel I was, I ignored by doctor’s orders and often walked without them (it still healed faster than the doctor expected). When I finally got the brace off and the 12 staples removed, I was immensely proud of the scar I had. My friends and I were competitive about having the best scars and mine was 6″ long and 1/2″ wide, the biggest by far!

    I like to joke and say I tackled a van and won, because the van looked worse than I did after the accident. Though I did suffer a little brain damage, but it’s getting better with every year that goes by. I would love to have the newspaper article about it just as memorabilia, even though my name wasn’t in it because it hadn’t been released. For me, the worst thing about it was that they had to cut up my favorite pair of jeans 🙁

  19. SR Avatar

    Years ago, I travelled on business to Connecticut and lived in Danbury for a couple of years. I bought my first ever car, a used Hyundai Elantra and spent many an enjoyable hour driving it around offering to pick up friends and colleagues just for an excuse to drive.

    On one Thursday afternoon, five of us from my office bundled into the car to go grab lunch at a local mall on Exit 3. On the way back, I had to merge into the left lane of I-84 and almost immediately change to the right-most lane in order to take the next Exit. As I accelerated into the fast lane I glanced at my side mirror and saw a 16-wheeler some distance away. Thinking nothing of it, I started up the right indicator and accelerated to change to the middle lane. Half way into the change, I was straddling the fast and middle lane when I suddenly saw the truck speed up and over take me on my right. For several moments, all five of us had our you-know-what in our mouths. We were on a collision course with the rear end of the truck.

    Somehow my driver’s instincts kicked in and I yanked the wheel to the left. The imminent danger passed only to take a more fearful form: the highway median. I yanked the wheel again and the car swerved hard right crossing the highway at right angles to the oncoming traffic.

    I still have nightmares occasionally where highway traffic rushes at me as I drive a car across the highway into the wild plants and shrubs growing along the side of the Interstate.

    The car was totaled but thankfully, everyone survived with only minor bruises to show for the incredible experience.

    Driving Lesson: Objects in the mirror **are** closer than they appear.

  20. Anonymous Avatar

    In the ‘I knew it was risky but I did it anyway’ category, I don’t have much to say, except for this one incident…I am SO not proud of this. But maybe if I say it here, I can get it off my chest.

    And no, I was 5 or 6 at the time, don’t blame me too much, guys. Besides, I felt so guilty I tattled to my mom later.

    See, my little brother had just been born, and so, I felt a little jealous of all the attention he was receiving. (I’m glad to say I don’t, now) So one day, when my parents were out, I sneaked over to my mom’s precious vase (I hated it anyway) and artfully broke it into a million little pieces. And framed my brother, who was too little to defend himself.

    If anyone had bothered to think the matter over, they would have seen that obviously I had to have been the one who broke the vase. But in my mom’s hot rage, she punished my little bro instead.

    It was risky because there was about a 99% chance I could have been found out. And foolish to try and incriminate my little brother. But, my 8 year old mind was only filled with thoughts of revenge.

    The point is, if my mom had found out that I had broken the vase, I would have been in for such a punishment as is practicall impossible to imagine. I got off scot-free. I still can’t get how I got away with it.

  21. Ted Avatar

    This was the riskiest thing I think I have ever done.

    It happened to me during Fire Controlman school in the US Navy. The school taught electronics and weapons systems and had a near 50% failure rate. Failure meant going to the fleet for the next four years as a non-designated striker instead of a Fire Controlman. So instead of four years of advanced weapons systems you got four years of mind-numbing hell where you would have no control of what you did or your future in the Navy.

    The school’s failure rate (they were trying for 75% we were told) was due to the tremendous amount of stress, ridiculous requirements keeping rooms/buildings absolutely spotless, long hours of studying, and homework that did not count towards our grade but would only be looked if you failed a test. We were told that in the 6 months of school we were being taught a near BS in electronics.

    So we did all the homework, studied late into the night (I averaged 4 hours after school every week night and 8 hours Sat. and Sun.)and put up with the stress and cleaning and everything else that was involved to get through school and become a Fire Controlmen.

    I think almost everyone copied some or all of the homework from more senior roommates because we just didn’t have enough time and we didn’t worry about it because it didn’t count for our grade. We would take the hour or so each week it took to copy the homework and then spend the extra time not doing the homework doing all the outlining, and reading, and studying that was checked every day and did count towards our grade.

    Well, near my graduation, we got a new guy in our room and we dutifully passed the homework down to him. Within a few weeks, he failed one of his tests and he was also caught writing down test answers. The teacher looking for more proof of cheating and found other students homework in his possession!

    This occurred late on a Friday afternoon and everyone in our room was pulled in for questioning. I had no idea what was going on but knew that to say anything would send me to the fleet as a striker. So I decided to risk everything and say nothing.

    The teacher eventually let me go and I got back to the barracks to find out that my roommates had done the same thing! No one had said anything because we knew that to talk was to kill our careers. The new guy told us what had happened and what he had done and we all realized that we were in some deep trouble because of it and we had to get out of it.

    It took some time, but we had an entire weekend to figure something out, and it was late Friday evening that a plan was hatched. The plan was to come up with reasons for why the new guy had other students stuff in his possession and that he HAD to have it in his possession. We would then all admit that we also had other students’ stuff in our possession and we had to because of the requirements of keeping rooms clean and the long hours of studying we were required to do. In other words: we would stuff other people’s stuff in our lockers to make the room clean and then forget we had the stuff. Make sense?

    The story seemed good but we realized that no one would believe it unless we could tell the story perfectly and easily. The teachers would only believe us if the story rolled off our tongues. The truth was always easy to tell and our story had to be easy to tell and the story would only be easy to tell if we had the story down pat and to do that required… repetition!

    So we told the story to everyone: over, and over, and over again. To be honest, I almost had myself believing the story actually happened by Monday morning. And Monday morning came and we told our story individually, told them together, and no holes could be found in it. We were told that we had to go see the school CO for possible punishment because what we had done (the story remember) was wrong even though NOT storing other students’ stuff in our lockers would have also gotten us in trouble. We told the story to him and waited his judgement. He was going to throw the book at us but because the homework played no part in our grade and not doing what we said we had done would have also landed us in trouble; he was willing to dismiss the whole thing as long as he didn’t ever see any us in front of him again. He would never see me again.

    Was what we did wrong? Yes, of course. But fear will make you do things you wouldn’t think you would do.

    Was the consequences of failing school harsh? Yes.

    Was the consequences of being caught terrifying? Yes.

    Was it risky? Hell Yes!

    Was it worth it? You be the judge.

    I graduated a few weeks later, went on to another weapons school, then on to Japan as a Fire Controlman for four years, and eventually was award the Navy Achievement Medal, and other service medals, for Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

    I got out after six years and landed a job repairing electronics (using education I got in Fire Controlman school), would start a career with a major international security company (on the recommendation of a fellow Fire Controlman from one of my ships in Japan), and now provide for my wife and three kids as a senior technician/network administrator.

    Unknowingly I risked absolutely everything that weekend: everything I would do and everything I would become. What would have happened if the story hadn’t rang true or I had told the truth and would have gone to the fleet as a non-designated striker? Would I be different if I had done the homework instead of studying and/or perhaps failed the school? Would I be the person I am now with a similar life? Would I live in the same sort of house? Would I have the same sort of good paying job? Would my children be the same children now sleeping upstairs? Would my wife?

    What do you think?

  22. Jordan Avatar

    From when I was about 6 my brother (2 years older) and I would climb up on the railing of our deck with an umbrella, open it up and jump off shouting that we were Mary Popins.

  23. Drake_Tesla Avatar

    I was going to say that I very seldom take risks. I’m quite staid and boring, not to mention more than a little timid. I keep an emergency fund in a savings account. I follow the rules. I drive the speed limit. I’ve never been drunk. I seldom act without a plan. I carry a first-aid kit, a cell phone, jumper cables.

    But then… I encouraged my out-of-work husband to go back to school, leaving me as the family breadwinner, while I had (and have) a medical condition that had me down to a partial work week and corresponding partial pay. (Why? Because it’s the right thing for him, and, therefore, for us. So he’s currently adding ‘pre-apprentice training as a heavy-duty mechanic’ to his degree in nuclear physics.)

    Oh. And there was the time I ducked under the hooves of a rearing horse to undo the quick-release knot on his lead rope and move him out of the corral. (Why? Because he could have fallen and hurt or killed himself, hurt one of the horses tied next to him, or hurt or killed one of the humans in the immediate vicinity. And I was the closest person. It’s not all that unusual for anyone who works around horses, but it’s still a risk.)

    And once I signed on as security staff for my university, to earn money for my undergraduate society. (I’m five foot two, pudgy and female. I wear glasses. I was seventeen at the time. Security teams were unarmed, unless you count the plastic vests with ‘security’ written on it.) Over the course of the next year, I took a knife away from a belligerent party-goer, staffed an event with such a reputation for violence that none of the local bars would host it, and said ‘Hey! We don’t throw chairs in here!’ far more often that I imagined anyone would ever have to. I learned about the usefulness of a calm, authoritative tone on drunken students, and came to realize that, if I held myself with confidence and made reasonable requests (‘Put down that chair, please.’) most people would do what I asked. Perhaps they just felt it was beneath them to physically challenge a short girl with glasses in public. I did it to earn five dollars an hour to pay for Engineering Society newsletter photocopying and to fund events.

    Right out of university, I took on the job of starting up a summer science and engineering day camp. From scratch. With a hundred-dollar supply budget per week of camp with twenty kids. Oh, and I was supervising the three (bickering) employees. I shared the responsibility with a partner, who got so ill (burst appendix) that she spent the summer in the hospital. I spent most of that summer scrounging materials for free or cheap, settling squabbles between employees, teaching science to children, and doing the paperwork and preparation at night. I slept in the office half the time, because I didn’t have time to walk back to my apartment. The camp is still going strong, fifteen years later. They now have a materials budget bigger than my current annual salary, and have camps at four different locations around the province. That’s why I did it.

    After that job, I got a contract position as a placeholder for a facility manager at a passenger rail maintenance facility . (He’d had a heart attack and quadruple bypass.) They told me flat out at the interview that they weren’t expecting much; if the facility was still standing at the end of the contract and I hadn’t got anyone killed, they were going to call it a win. I sat forward and told them that I certainly wouldn’t I was going to do my best to give the facility back in the same shape I got it. Taking the position was a huge risk. Could I keep things running? How would ‘Well, at least she didn’t get anyone killed’ sound as a future job reference? Maybe I’d be better off with one of those low-risk drafting jobs.

    I spent eight months in charge of everything at the facility that wasn’t a train. (Tracks, four separate electrical systems, wheel lathe, forklifts, racking in the warehouse, HVAC systems, pest control, around thirty contractors, two janitors, union negotiations and the health and safety committee.) I inspected the roof and the train yard weekly, stayed all night to help work on the high-voltage three-phase electrical system, confronted intruders, dealt with three levels of government, rode out a change of management, and handled the aftermath of an office fire. I wrote proposals for capital projects. Hired and fired contracting companies. Carried out minor building renovations, including getting approval and permits, to improve safety. They still call every now and again when the position falls vacant. Why did I do it? Because they told me flat out that I was the best applicant they’d had, and they really needed someone. Because it would be great experience in an industrial setting. Because, if I could pull it off, it would be incredible on a resume. Because I thought I could do it, darn it, and I was going show them I could, or die trying.

    You know, come to think of it, I do occasionally take risks.

  24. Tom Avatar

    I bought a new Pontiac GTO in 1966 and took some friends on a test drive. I got the car up to 130 MPH, turned around in the driver’s seat, and kissed one of the girls in the back. It’s not as bad as it sounds. I was immortal then. I wouldn’t try it now.

  25. Julian Adorney Avatar
    Julian Adorney

    Last summer I went on a river trip, and we decided to camp next to some 200-foot cliffs. I’d just had emergency surgery on my hand (nasty encounter with some dogs the night before) and, because my group was unprepared for that, the leaders didn’t have painkillers. Instead, they got me drunk to cope with the pain.

    A few drinks in, my surgery finished and the resident nurse let me leave. Now free, I decided, one-handed and still tipsy, to scramble up those cliffs. The view from the top was incredible.

  26. Cat Avatar

    I had three kids…and raised them mostly myself…and they are awesome. But risky? Absolutely.

    I also rode on the back of a motorcycle in the middle of the night, and in the middle of a storm, down the 1 highway from San Francisco to Ventura…almost died of overexposure. We also scared the bezezus out of a lot of drivers who came around the corner in the stormy dark with headlights bouncing off two wet riders…this was in 1973.

    God was definitely with me that night!

  27. Kat Avatar

    Some of these stories are absolutely amazing. My risky thing is so mundane in comparison to literal cliffs, train trestles and wild animals.

    For sheer dumb luck or good watchful angels, I spent pretty much a year in the NYC bar scene with a trustfund kid music groupie as my only “friend” (in quotes for a valid reason!). I was a babe in the woods there, and never really stopped being the “good girl” friend as I saw everything from drag queens to b-list celebrities, and helped carry my friend home a lot of nights. There were lots of strange guys buying drinks and offering rides home and all that stuff, and all I ended up with in the long run was a bad crush on a bartender from Texas and an introduction to a very hunky bass player I had a thing for…. for all the horror stories out there (particularly the ones all around our circle at that moment) I survived the year without any harm other than a backstabbing ex-friend. Looking back on it now, I wonder how I managed it!

    1. R.C. Mann Avatar
      R.C. Mann

      Backstabbers can be more dangerous than mere gravity or wild animals.

  28. Lila holdenried Avatar
    Lila holdenried

    A nanosecond after I turned 16, woke up at 2 am and drove my mother’s car (note that it was mothers car, I didn’t have one yet), not just down the street for a joy ride, but drove 10 hours straight to Hilton Head. Actually I drove 10 hours straight for a boy, what else would possess a God-fearing, barely 16 year old girl to swipe her mother’s car? My poor mom woke in the morning in our lovely home, made a cup of coffee, started breakfast, then called me to breakfast before church, but her daughter was long gone. What still gives me pangs in my heart is that she had no way to get to church that day. Some things you don’t get over. I felt so terrible, I was nauseous from fighting my “angel on my shoulder” during that long, lonely, and dark drive to South Carolina. That angel kept telling me to “Turn around! Your mother has to get to church tomorrow!”

    I did eventually make it back home 3 days later, I do believe there was lots of glares and words hurled at me, grounding for the rest of the year, but she still loved me. 30 years later, we love each other deeply and have a strong friendship, but we don’t talk about that weekend in SC much. (-:

  29. Barbara Avatar

    I grew up on a 1 acre lot with lots of trees, mostly oak trees, and to this day I think there cannot be too much wrong with a world in which God has placed oak trees. I also have a serious problem with heights. But I climbed trees growing up. Spent hours in one of them. There was an elm tree growing next to this particular oak tree, one of those branching trunk trees. One day, while I was in the oak tree, I decided to climb up high enough to where the branches of the two trees intermingled and cross over into the elm tree. I actually did it! On at least two occasions, including one time in a skirt! How I managed not to end up broken and bleeding on the ground I do not know, but I am glad I did it. Especially since my older sister, who climbed before she could walk, never even considered doing it and was horrified and dumbfounded to learn, after all these years, that I had even contemplated it, much less done it!

    1. Lila holdenried Avatar
      Lila holdenried

      Loved the tree-climbing years…built many a fort in them. Bravo to you for tree-jumping, never tried that one.

  30. Maci Avatar

    I was driving with my sister to LA. I decided to smoke on the way there so I very “not-sober” along the way. We took highway 1 which curves along the rocky coastline. There is a part, over 100 feet above the rocky shore, that has no guardrail and you can get off and look over in the ocean.

    I walked to the edge, and peered over. Someone in my head said “You can fall, go back to the car.” I decided to listen, and I thought this must be dangerous somehow…but only laughed. I walked to the car anyway and got inside, realizing afterwards that I had stumbled the whole way there. I don’t know if I would have fallen.

    To this day, my sister still cries, a bit horrified, and what could have happened. She says”Why did I let you do that?!” It was not her fault. And now I am very afraid of heights.

  31. Cheryl Avatar

    Thirty years ago my husband and I were a few months sober and heading for an AA meeting. On the side of the road was a young man who jumped out of his station wagon and ran around the front and threw the bonnet up becasue the engine was on fire.

    We pulled up a distance away and ran over to help. His wife was having trouble getting her seatbelt off so I ran around to help her, and as I did I realised the back of the wagon was also on fire. It moved and spread quickly. As I undid the seatbelt and pulled her out I could feel the flames heating my face and there was a nose-clogging stench of burning paint and metal.

    As i dragged her away from the car, my husband was busy dragging the man away because he’d succumbed to the smoke when he tried to beat out the flames under the bonnet.
    We got them both to what we thought was a safe distance away, but the woman was screaming something unintelligible. I finally realised she was yelling about her baby being in the back. I ran over, but the flames were prohibitive on this side of the car and I had to try the other side.

    The door was incredibly hard to open, so I climbed in the window. I could just see the bassinet through the smoke, but there was no baby. I couldn’t breathe, so I had to pull out again to clear my chest.

    Terry was right behind me so I yelled at him to check the back.
    We had had many problems with our marriage up to that point with his anger when drunk and my broken bones, and we didn’t know it then, but were soon to split up and remain best friends for the rest of our lives. But, I can honestly say I’ve never been more proud of any one in my family.

    He pulled the door open with super human strength and climbed into the now smoke filled burning car. He screamed at me to hold his legs as he climbed into the back. He couldn’t see the baby, so he felt around frantically and his hand finally caught on a little bit of cloth. He pulled hard and managed to grab the baby and yelled for me to pull him out, which I did.

    The mother was screaming hysterically between bouts of coughs, and her husband was holding her and whispering to her that it would all be okay.

    I dragged Terry, clutching the baby to his chest one-handed while he fought to get out with the other. We fell clear of the car, got up and ran to where the parents were. We had just enough time to turn around and see the car explode and burn to a blackened shell in less than a minute!

    We drove the family to the nearest hospital and left them amidst tears and thanks, and never saw or heard from them again.

    Neither of us were heroes, and I honestly believe anyone else would do the same thing if faced with the same choices.

  32. Linda Sturgill Avatar
    Linda Sturgill

    I married a man I met on my wedding day. No, it was not an arranged marriage. I was supposed to have married some one else on that Saturday. Six weeks before the day, we knew it was ahuge mistake. When the day c ame my parents wanted to take me out of town. We went to a camping area we owned and while there I met a very handsome, very sweet man. Eight months later we were married. That was 40 years ago. I sure hope it lasts.

  33. p0megran8 Avatar

    I met a bunch of biker friends at a campground in WV on my first long-distance motorcycle trip by myself, after a divorce. Saturday night and into Monday morning, one of the most severe thunderstorms I’d ever experienced came through.

    In the morning, we discovered the entire area was experiencing a 100-year flood, all the exits from the campground were washed out, and the one road leading out of the area was well under water. So, several us packed up our bikes and exited on a washed-out goat track of a “road” up and over the mountain to leave.

    Did I mention I was afraid of riding on dirt and gravel, and it had taken some courage just to ride into the campground, which was all gravel roads?

    At one point, one of the riders in front slipped and dropped his bike in the mud, forcing the rest of us to stop, on a curving, sloping patch of dirt with a river running down it. I ended up balanced on a high point, but could only just barely dot my toes to the ground under the swiftly flowing water to keep me up.

    I’ve never been afraid of riding on dirt since then, and even now have a dual-sport bike that I take out on dirt and gravel roads, preferably in the mountains.

  34. wednesday Avatar

    When Titanic came out (the first time), I went with a friend to a local mall in Jacksonville, Florida to see it. We couldn’t find a parking space and went round and round for quite some time. We finally caught someone pulling out and waited for them to do so.

    Another car came in the opposite direction, and it was one of those situations where you just know the other driver is going to get the spot because the space will be clear for him first.

    Stubborn Scot that I am, I got out of the car and planted myself in the middle of the now-empty parking space. The other driver called me every name in the book (none of which applied to a female), but we got the space.

    Afterward, I realized how incredibly stupid I’d been; the other driver could have had a gun. He could have chosen to run over me in the space. He could have gotten out of his car and beaten the crap out of me. I swore never again to do something so stupid over something so trivial.

    By the way, all the tickets to Titanic were sold out when we got inside the mall.

  35. Lisa Avatar

    As a middle school teacher I take the risk of public humiliation on an hourly basis 186 days of the year, but for a few years I also had a Second Life. Being semi-anonymous gave me courage to take many emotional and creative risks I wouldn’t in real life. During that time, I once took a serious creative risk to rescue a Second Life theatre project that was in the midst of falling apart for legal reasons. As a result, my co-producers and co-writers created an original production and set a precedent by successfully presenting the first live theater event in Second Life. Coordinating international actors for rehearsals and performances simultaneously was quite a feat, and our efforts led to the establishment of permanent theatre groups in Second Life. Our work was also featured in a one-act festival in New York, which became my excuse for my first trip to the Big Apple. What a thrill to visit NYC for the first time to see my writing performed live! None of that would have been possible if I had kept my mouth shut and not urged our group to push forward when it seemed we were at an end.

  36. dragon Avatar

    I suppose risk is in how you look at it. Most risky thing i ever did: looked into a pair of insanely blue eyes while holding his hands and said “I do.” I have trust issues. After 32 years and counting, I still have issues and he’s still here. Second most risky: raising kids. Writing for a living is beginning to look sane in comparison. Real life risks: move from New Orleans to Santa Fe with no net, driving a VW Thing with a trailer in tow with my mom and two cats. Breaking up a fight between a Pit Bull and a really stupid mongrel who started the fight. Refusing to get in the car with the pimp who propositioned me in Las Vegas, NV … I didn’t know he was a pimp and I was walking to work reading. My husband recognized the description of the Cadillac. (Have you ever felt your Guardian Angel is sweating bullets and working overtime?)I’m beginning to see a long line of stupid actions now … I think I’ll stop. (The kids are all in their 20s, one in the National Guard and two still looking for the incandescent light bulb of recognizing what they really want to do)

  37. KJ Avatar

    Not sure if it’s the riskiest thing I’ve ever knowingly done, and it’s certainly less dangerous than all of the things I’ve done unknowing, but when I was fifteen I did cling to the outside railing of the third story bow of a passenger boat chugging down the Amazon river one night. Honest to God I wasn’t trying to do a Titanic recreation, I just wanted to see the stars. Totally worth it.

    Of course some people might rate knowingly swimming in gator and water moccasin infested lakes, years spent rambling and rampaging alone through the still-wild-enough-to-scare-tourists Florida heartland, standing out on an unprotected porch during the entirety of a C-4 hurricane, moving with my mother and handicapped kid brother alone to a (heaven forbid!) Muslim country where we knew no one, taking up with a pack of semi-wild dogs, a three day ride cross-country by Greyhound Bus, or even sliding on my poor bum down the “Very steep, dang it!” side of what I can only refer to as a Swiss Alp,(and doing all of it barefoot) more dangerous. But some people are dull, and for me I’m happy to say that it’s all just par for the course.

    Still some people might think that all these things are rather tame and less than impressive. Those people inspire me, and to them I say “I’m still young, and so, so, far from done, give a girl a break.”

  38. Amira Avatar

    I moved out of my parents’ house at eighteen, moved to the other side of the country to a city I’d never been to before. The only person I knew there was the boyfriend I was moving in with.
    More than three years later, we’re still living there, still together, and I love this town.

  39. Laraine Avatar

    We weren’t into daring each other to do scary or potentially dangerous things when I was young. Possibly the most exciting things I ever did were going up in a Tiger Moth (as a passenger) and soaring the Kaimai Ranges in a glider, once again as a passenger. The former flight was very brief (probably about 10 minutes) because the venerable Tiger Moth was towing a glider, but the Kaimai Ranges were very kind to us on that day so I had plenty of time to savour soundless flight and the scenery below.

  40. Ray Johnson Avatar
    Ray Johnson

    I’d take long walks, all over, any time of day or night. This wasn’t just when I was home and knew where I was going. I’d walk to places where I had no idea where I was or how I’d get back. (I always managed to, somehow.) More than once, a police cruiser would pull over to ask me what I was doing and why I was wherever I was at whatever hour it happened to be. Why did I do it? Now that I’ve finally figured out I’m an undiagnosed Aspie, I’m pretty sure I have that wandering instinct…

    And I hitchhiked a lot, too. I thought it was only dangerous for girls. A few too many rides with people who were wasted out of their minds and driving so insanely that climbing out of the car in one piece felt like a miracle was enough to cure me of that. (After one of them – and not even the one that finally convinced me to stop – I was shaking so hard I had to sit on a curb for three quarters of an hour before I could even stand.) Why did I do that? My vision is too poor to let me get my license, so it seemed like a no brainer at the time.

    And then there were all the times I nearly fried myself. I was interested in electronics and electricity, and especially the old stuff that would be considered almost “steampunk” now. One time, I had this big porcelain double knife switch, with exposed copper terminals… I’d wired it up to a nice heavy duty plug, and was using it to control something or other, I can’t even remember what now. Anyway, I got overconfident, and when I pulled the switch over, I got my thumb stuck between the terminals. If it had jammed there, I wouldn’t be typing this now… Instead, the jolt I got threw me across the room. Even with that, I got enough “juice” my whole arm tingled and felt hot for a long while afterward. It was the kind of feeling I can almost feel again, just remembering it. And it certainly taught me not to get so cocky and assume I didn’t have to be careful. Although I still got “bit” more than once after that, but never again by straight house current, always high voltage but low amperage, which isn’t nearly as risky.

  41. Robert Avatar

    I’ve done approximately 100 really risky things in my life, all of which I do not recommend to anyone. But, damn, those were the days!

    My biggest, riskiest thing I’ve ever done was to become a cop in San Francisco. That was a good time but it was also a dangerous time as well. Don’t regret it, but there were some pretty tense times.

  42. Christina Avatar

    When I was in high school my parents were out of town and I went to visit a friend and hang out for the evening. I had a car and she asked me if we could go to her boyfriend’s house. I took her, not intending to stay out too late, but we ended up at the river over an hour away and she ended up with her boyfriend on one side of a bush on the riverbank and left me with boyfriend’s cousin, who I had never met, on the other side. I let him know that *I* was not going to be free with my favors, no matter what my friend was doing. We ended up staying out all night and luckily the cousin didn’t force me to reconsider what I’d told him, even though there was no one else around except my friend and her boyfriend if he’d decided to do it anyway. It wasn’t until months later I actually realized the danger I’d put myself in that night. Until that point, I was just mad at my friend for using me.

    About four years ago I went back to college and decided to take a summer class in England. I was about 35/36 at the time. I paid for the trip and had about $150 to last three weeks. With the exchange rate, this was cut in half, so I had 75 pounds. The school had a house with a kitchen and train tickets were included, so that part was covered. I had to cover food, trips I took and any souveniers I bought.

    I visited Stonehenge, Stratford-Upon-Avon and went to London twice. A friend-of-a-friend (female) was living in London and working and she was nice enough to meet with me and even bought me dinner and paid for me to take a cab back to the train station that night. I had one day left on my train ticket and had to run to catch the last train to Oxford before midnight. By the time I got back to Oxford, I didn’t have enough money with me to take the bus, so I walked from town to the house at 1:00 am.

    I enjoyed that trip so much and was able to do pretty much everything I wanted, and still had enough money left for breakfast at the airport the morning we left.

    The scariest thing I’ve ever, done, though was get divorced last year. Then the next scariest was remarry him six months later. But it’s a risk I was willing – and I’m still willing – to take.

  43. Justa Avatar

    The hardest thing I ever did was tell my sister that her husband was having an affair. I knew this to be a fact because I accidentally saw him and this other woman being intimate. My sister had only been married for a year and she was thinking seriously about starting a family. Even if this were not the case, I would have still told here.

    The news broke her heart and mine too.

    Would I do it again? Yes. Now she is happily married to husband number two and he is wonderful to her. They are happily expecting their first child in July.

  44. Tom Benedict Avatar
    Tom Benedict

    It’s hard to pick just one. I was the kind of kid who jumped off the roof for fun. The closest I came to death was when I got tumbled in the surf and dislocated both shoulders. I was face-down in less than a foot of water and couldn’t stand up. I held my breath until another wave rolled me over so I could sit up. The irony is I’m currently safety rep for my group at work, where we do crane work and high work on top of a mountain on a regular basis.

    If I had to pick one crazy thing I did intentionally, though, it was when a friend and I decided to run down a sloped boulder field with full packs on. The slope was on the order of 40 degrees or steeper, and we wound up in a dead sprint, hopping from boulder to boulder. If either of us had missed or slipped we would’ve been maimed or dead. Both of us laughed like hyenas (or jibs – thanks, Deborah Turner, for the new term!) Why did we do it? Because we were both young, dumb, and immortal in our own minds. We were wrong, of course, but I’ll never forget that sprint.

  45. Barbie Clark Avatar
    Barbie Clark

    Roller Derby in my 30s. 3 Kids. Kids may be worse.

  46. fett Avatar

    Roller Derby in my 30s. And 3 kids. Kids may be worse.

  47. David Ferkins Avatar
    David Ferkins

    I was 16 at the time and walking with my girlfriend along a street that did not continue on the otherside of the road we were approaching. A car About 50 yards to our right was a railroad crossing. The embankment placed it 10 to 15 feet above the surrounding area. We were 30 feet from the intersection when a car pulled up and stopped at the top of the embankment. There was plenty of time for the car to cross the intersection before crossed but it remained sitting across the tracks. We crossed the and was about 50 feet into the yard when the car coasted down and stopped where we had crossed 30 seconds or so before them. 5 boys, all taller than my height of 5’8″, climbed out of the car and shouted for us to stay out of their way. They didn’t appreciate us ignoring them and started running toward us. I told my girlfriend to take off to her house, about 10 houses from where we were, and get her father and uncle. She was very fast and I am the opposite, I have quick reflexes but very slow when it comes to a sprint. I stayed and blocked their path to give her more time to escape, and I hoped I would not get hurt to bad.
    The next few moments seemed to crawl as I tried to stall them with humor and telling them I would fight them if it came to that, but those 18+ might want think better of it as I was still a minor. It was about this time my girlfriends uncle came around the corner followed by her dad. The took off, with one of them sucker punching me, stitches required to close the wound.
    If not for me keeping my back to the bushes, thinking clearly while being scared and attempting to be funny, I could easily have been seriously hurt during the 3+ minutes it took for the cavalry to arrive and save me from my moment as a “knight (with no shining armor) saving the damsel.”

  48. R.C, Mann Avatar
    R.C, Mann

    Aside from my first plane ride? My first commercial plane ride anyway. That landing… *shudder*

    I spent several years working construction, including highway construction. For about two years I was running a jackhammer on the dynamite crew in the hills of eastern KY. Dunno if you have ever been there, but the terrain is fairly rugged. We did a lot of widening where the old roads had been chopped through hills, barely wide enough for two cars to pass. Our crew went in and blasted the cliffs off to make them wide enough for modern roads.

    I spent a lot of time on top of some fair size bluffs, hanging on by my toenails while drilling the charge holes for the powder man, who went behind me tying the primacord, dropping the dynamite sticks, and tamping the holes with clay. It got hot up there, and it was easy to get dizzy. But nobody ever got killed. Not quite.

    I used to harass our foreman. I was young and idiotic then, but I still feel bad for treating the old man that way:) He was a kind hearted guy, but very nervous. I got an evil kick out of standing next to the dynamite crates and tossing caps into the air. One time I asked innocently “I wonder what would happen if I bit it?” His reaction wasn’t pretty.

    The most dangerous risk we all took on that crew though, was letting a guy named Bill operated the detonator. Bill wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, and sometimes he got impatient with what he saw as the rest of us dawdling. If the charges were set, and the detonator was connected, Bill woudl set it off. It didn’t matter whether everyone was under cover or not. So when you heard Bill yell, “Fire in the hole!” You bit the dirt, right them and there.

    Never will forget the sound of rock shrapnel whistling past my ears. I guess it will be with me till my deathbed.

  49. Dusty Avatar

    I went on exchange halfway across the world for three weeks. I’m from Australia, and went to California.

    That wasn’t brave. What was terrifying was what happened, without my choice, during the trip.

    I never got sick, ever, even though my family got sick all the time. In fact, my Dad got sick the day I left. I had to clean the sink that morning because he’d been sick in the night and hadn’t cleaned up after himself (gross), and I remember thinking, “Isn’t it a good thing I never get sick?”

    Fate said, “Challenge accepted.”

    Left Sydney Monday morning, arrived in Cali on what was essentially that same Monday morning after a longass plane ride. That night, I got sick. I was incapacitated and still throwing up long after my stomach was empty. Worse still, I got sick away from the hotel. I was upchucking every five to ten minutes and I was so weak I could barely walk. We’d gotten to the jousting venue by walking twenty minutes, so we had no car/bus to pick me up. I had to pretty much limp back in the dark with a teacher and a new friend, occasionally ducking into the bushes. People who drove past probably thought I was drunk.

    They called a doctor. I call him Doctor Asshole, he even had a sh*t-eating grin to go with the name. I was still throwing up around every ten minutes, he gave me an injection in my ass. After an hour, he said — more like 45 mins for someone of my frame — I’d stop throwing up.

    I call him Doctor Asshole because the injection he gave me, the one that cost six hundred bucks, didn’t kick in for six. F*cking. Hours.

    I’m not even sure it DID kick in and that my body didn’t just heal on its own. I was trying to sleep, and I would literally wake up from needing to throw up. At one point I gave up trying to sleep and just sat up with some water. I was so tired that me, a person who usually takes an ENTIRE HOUR to go to sleep, fell asleep sitting up in less than a minute and spilt that water all over me.

    The teachers let me sleep for most of Tuesday and I was well enough to catch up with them in Knottsberry Farm that afternoon. It had pretty much passed through my system by then, though I was weak for a few days and didn’t eat a thing until Thursday night. Until then I lived on soft drink and juice, I just never felt hungry.

    By then I’d heard about how a quarter of the students on exchange came down with the same thing I did. Later one of them, Abby, said, “Wait, it was YOUR fault we got sick?”


    Needless to say, my father was very sheepish about not cleaning up after himself when I got back.

  50. Taylor Wells Avatar
    Taylor Wells

    Geez,you guys get up early. My keyboard hides from me when I am asleep. And I thought I got up early!

    First, I should say, I used to have a high-risk job as an EMT/Ambulance driver. My partner and I arrived at the scene of a mobile home shown to us by a small group of people. The door was unlocked and we entered. A man was lying on the carpet in the living room. I checked him for pulse and breathing. It was obvious he was DOA having been dead for two or three days. He had been stabbed. With nothing else we could do, we exit the front door and closed it. Standing in the front of the door and blocking it, I told the people standing about that the man was dead, and we could not do anything more, other than, wait for the police. About four people started up the steps toward me as I thought, uh-oh. The lead man on the steps was huge, arguing what authority did I have from keeping them out. (I understood they were family) I stood my ground by repeating, there is nothing you can do. And these people were upset and angry. I was expecting big trouble–a gun, a knife, a multitude of fist.

    Momentarily, the police pulled in with flashing lights, and I sighed with relief. But, of course, these people quieten right down and dispersed.

    I did it because I thought it was the right thing to do. I thought these people, family or not, would not want to be hauled into court for mussing up the crime scene.

    A few months later, I was sworn in as Deputy Coronor

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