I was about 9 years old when my dad took my mom and I on a business trip to Seattle, Washington, and we stayed in a high rise hotel. I had never been in a high rise hotel before, and I was fascinated with the view. Especially since, directly across the street, giant cranes with wrecking balls were smashing away at an old building.
What is so fascinating, I wonder, about the sight of a building being torn down? Especially to kids. I watched for hours upon hours. The huge ball of metal would swing, smash into concrete and brick. Dust flew, debris fell. I waited breathlessly for large sections to break loose and tumble to their doom.
Back then, you could open high rise windows. You can’t do that anymore, they’re all bolted shut. When I found I could open the window, a whole new world of fun blossomed. I proceeded to take all the hotel stationary, fold it into paper airplanes, and send them flying through the air toward the deconstruction site across the street.
Again, why is this so fascinating? But to a small boy such as I was, I couldn’t imagine anything more fun. Every scrap of paper I could scrounge flew out that window as one type of airplane or another. And then, watching one, it flew right into a window across the street, right into the doomed building being torn down. In my excitement, I forgot the window was wide open, and I leaned forward and fell out.
We were about 20 stories up.
I heard my mom scream and my father jump. He caught my legs as I was going out the window. I have a very vivid memory of seeing the gray sidewalk below, my hands stretched out in front of me. Little people walking on the sidewalk and small cars driving on the miniature street. Then I was flying backwards as my dad yanked me back through the window.
That was close. I mean, really. If my dad hadn’t had such quick reflexes, this would have been a really short life.