It was the day of a dump run. Yes, we call it a transfer station now.
I grew up in the era of the dump, the EOTD. It wasn’t a pretty time, but the name sticks. I’ll call it a dump until death; it connects me to the past, as did the stepladder. It’s a Davidson; dang good ladders.
I purchased it right around nineteen eighty-six. I’d like to know how many times I climbed it, almost fell from it, or spilled a small can of paint while being too lazy to remove it before resetting the ladder to a new spot.
I held steady the ladder’s base innumerable times while the Significant One hung drapes, scraped paint, or re-painted this or that. I’m positive we used it to gain the height necessary to top our first Christmas trees with an angel.
I should have purchased a fiberglass version, but I remember I had to buy four cords of firewood that year; aluminum was cheaper, and it was the time in my life when twenty-bucks would buy groceries for the week. I went with aluminum. You see, I’d just bought my first house. And between ’86 and ’94, I learned how to fix things. I also learned to fix them right the second time.
Sadly, lessons must come with do-overs; that’s how we learn. Talk about ups and downs; life and ladders offer lessons worth learning.
I last used the ladder three weeks ago when I stained the raised deck on the back of the house. I’ve kept it stuffed under that same deck for the better part of twenty years. I should have kept it inside, but there’s a newer ladder—also not fiberglass—in the space where one stepladder can fit. By the time I’d moved to this house, the rivets holding this one together had loosened. The folding strut supports connecting the two halves had bent and been bent back multiple times. It’s become rickety, but so have I.
The ladder was stored under a roll of dingy green water hose that begged to be thrown out. I’m not positive how a roll of hose can octopus its way around the legs and rungs of a ladder, but digging it out would have made an excellent video tutorial to impress upon others that hoses should be hung up and not laid on top of ladders. I threw some things out from under the deck; I got frustrated.
I had to pry apart the two halves of the ladder. Someone with more patience would have sprayed the support struts with penetrating oil before horsing it, but it was serviceable. I utilized the old boy for two more days of ups and downs. Using a lightweight stepladder on uneven ground is like dancing with the devil himself, but I only needed the first two steps, so the few slow tips and jump-offs remained drama and injury-free.
Talking to inanimate objects is on the list of my bad habits. I told the ladder that this was our last job together. I didn’t feel bad saying it, but on dump day, I carried it toward the truck with the respect of a fat pallbearer at the funeral of a good friend.
Re-folding the device culminated in destroyed struts bent beyond the point where they could be trusted again. It’s not the ladder’s fault. It’s mine. I have something better, free from corrosion or lousy storage practices. The new ladder is taller, has a broader base, and feels far more secure when utilized. Still, Davidson’s demise made me sad; I was throwing away the memories of lessons learned.
The ladder didn’t travel alone to the rusting grounds. I took a bicycle, an ancient lawnmower, and some remains of a rain gutter. Ceremoniously, I tossed them high into the metal recycling pile. The ladder flew further because of its light weight and low drag. It drifted aloft and hung briefly in midair as if invisible Christmas tree angels returned the favor, reaching down to ensure Davidon’s last fall was pain-free. After all, it’s the least they could do.
Davidson was done, but his remains could be made into something else for someone else. It made me feel better. I hoped the next extruded aluminum product would be taller, broader, and even better.
Talk about ups and downs; life and ladders offer lessons worth learning.
From the Jagged Edge of America, I remain,