i was halfway there when i remembered: i'm afraid of heights. maybe it comes from when i was a kid and my old man was always telling me, whenever i wouldn't stop doing whatever i was doing (running up and down the stairs, climbing trees) that i was going to fall and break every bone in my body. he even said this when i got off the couch any other way than the three-step process he'd taught me.
my folks were big on dire threats where stuff like that was concerned. when my sister and i used to goof around in the shower, our mom would warn us, "if you don't stop that, you're going to slip and fall and hit your head, like john glenn." (apparently the mercury astronaut and future u.s. senator had been injured in some bathroom mishap.) at school, where i was the kid that the teacher always called on to ask what was in the newspaper that day, i incurred her disfavor when she asked, "does anyone know who john glenn is?" and i replied, "he's the man who slipped and fell and hit his head on the bathtub!"
or maybe it came from when i was scabbing at ups in albany my freshman year in college, when the warehousemen went out in november, just as the christmas packages were starting to hit the system. my worst memory of that experience was walking backwards on a conveyer belt 30 feet off the ground with no railing, trying to unjam parcels that had gotten stuck on the belt.
in any event, as the forklift slid up to the cooler and i hopped off, i felt the _balloon of fear_ inflating in my head. it didn't help that one of my coworkers kept saying, "jump! jump!" (the roof of the cooler is only about 15 feet off the ground.) i managed to manhandle the shelf onto the pallet and hold it steady while the receiver lowered it to the ground, then hop back on for the ride down.
i was reminded of this just this past weekend, when i had to get up on the roof to clean the debris out of the gutters so my sweetie could get our rain barrel operational (and incidentally because the pest control lady figured there were ants nesting in the gutters). this time there was no _balloon of fear_, possibly because i positioned the ladder myself and could see that it was solid and stable. i'm going to have to get used to it, as i'm going to be cleaning out the gutters every spring and fall to make sure that our rain barrel stays in use.