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  • Writer's pictureSam Salerno

I Wish I Was That Cool.

It wasn't pretty.

Actually, I really can't give you an objective observation on if it was pretty or not. I just remember closing my eyes.

One step and...poof...I was weightless.

No rhyme or reason. Just the cold hard reminder that the gravity switch is still flipped to the on position, and trying to fight it doesn't usually turn out well for the person hurtling towards the ground.

I really wish I could blame it on something cool.

I was fighting a savage bear...on a raised platform...under a house....annnddd I fell...?

...or better yet...

I was set upon by a band of merciless thugs who insulted my beautiful wife (I can dream, can't I?), so, in a split second, I spear-tackled their leader off the edge, nimbly used his body to break my fall, then turned to face his minions...who fled in terror at my lightning fast reflexes?

Yeah, that would be so much cooler.

It's funny because these are the fantasies that usually run through my head when I imagine myself in the most dire circumstances – and I think every guy would agree that they do the same to some capacity. We imagine ourselves choking out the gas station robber and saving the day (and then the police hire us on the spot); we effortlessly fight off the dark-alley robber assaulting the damsel in distress (only to discover she's single and then, ever so suavely, we state we can solve that problem as well); the situations are literally endless and insanely entertaining.

But then days like today leave you thinking, this what would actually happen?

It all started with an LVL 8x12 beam, a joist

bracket, a framing hammer, a defiant nail, a pry-bar, and some foolishly placed scaffolding.

Yep, sounds like a setup for a bad joke.

This morning under the house we managed to hoist a very heavy beam up onto our shoulders, tip-toe it into position, temporarily screw one side into the supporting girder, and then use a six-ton jack to, quite literally, lift a solid portion of the house so the beam would sit level. Sounds all fun and games until you see that the whole process is done while you're suspended in the air by some scaffolding planks that feel like poolside springboards.

Once you get it up there, you'd think all that hard work would would be enough, right? The beam is all wedged in there nice and tight; the weight of the house is keeping it from budging. There's no way that thing is going to move.


You forgot the crap-ton of nails.

144 per beam, to be exact.

144 hand-driven nails.

144 hand-driven nails that have no freaking desire to be mercilessly pounded into old, knotted wood.

144 hand-driven nails that absolutely positively despise your soul and show their displeasure by bending ever so slightly so as to prevent you from driving them all the way in like the engineers call for.

Yes...144 nails from hell.

[I honestly have no idea why these things call for so many nails. You'd think that having that many nails in that small of a space would compromise the integrity of the board. But apparently I'm wrong.]


As I was pounding away, one nail decided to take a stand and resist. This was nothing new to me; I had dealt with defectors before and I would summon the yellow pry-bar of justice and banish the nail from my sight.

The pry-bar, however, lay on the plank adjacent from me...just out of reach.

And that's when it happened.

I had unknowingly constructed a scaffold catapult – and, when you're six feet up in the air, the physics of it all are truly phenomenal.

It was one small step for Sam...and then one giant fall for Sam.

The ninja reflexes I had always imagined would kick into gear in this kind of situation failed me. I grabbed for the joist above me, the scaffolding below me, the board that was falling with me, my hands searched for anything to stabilize me...but to no avail.

So what did I do?

I closed my eyes and wondered where in the heck my ninja powers had gone. Why had they not activated? All the years of mental training had proven futile, decimated by the reality that here I was, plunging towards the earth with my eyes closed and with no possibility of landing on my ninja feet.

Like I said: it wasn't pretty.

The ground could have been softer. That much is true. But it also could have been harder, so I'm not going to complain too much. My left hip took the brunt of the fall, and, seeing as the scaffolding is on a slope, my body bounced right and I viciously punched the scaffolding with my iron right fist (You think my arm is messed up? You should see what I did to the scaffolding!).

In reality, as funny as I try to make it sound, it's a miracle that I walked away from it with just a purple hip, a sore wrist, a good two gashes, and a bruised ego . I'll most definitely feel it tomorrow when I'm back at it, hammering another 144 hellish nails into their brackets.

But here's the lessons I learned, then I'll be done:

1. Unless you've gone to ninja school, you're probably not a ninja.

2. Unless you've been trained in hand-to-hand combat, you probably shouldn't try to choke out a guy with a gun at a gas station.

3. And unless you're absolutely convinced that the person being mugged by the dark-alley robber has the potential of being your future spouse (and, again, you've also had some extensive hand-to-hand combat training), you should probably call the police before jumping in to intervene.

Take it from a guy who found himself on a scaffold catapult this afternoon.

After today's events, I'll be demoting myself from a ninja master to a ninja apprentice.

But don't worry...I've got a good feeling I'll be back in no time.


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