I work with flying females

August 17, 2000

I work with flying females

All it took was three summers of working in a sand mine to know that if I were forced to work indoors, I was more suited to an office than an underground environment.

We used to pack deep underground shafts with oxidizer salted every so often with blasting caps which our boss assured us had "right little chance, really, least far as I know, but then they don't tell me everything" of exploding if accidentally dropped on the mine floor, which with us happened about every 30 feet.

But something came up at the office recently that led me to believe that blasting sandstone might not be as dangerous as a desk job, after all.

It all started in early June when a poster went up next to the company coffee machine - and delicious coffee it is - soliciting people interested in a skydiving jump on July 22.


Since I am very shortsighted I will generally agree to anything that's more than a month away, even speaking to elementary school students.

But the more I heard about the jump, the stronger became the nagging memory that I instead had to grout my tub.

First, I learned that the first time or two you jump you have someone experienced strapped to your back. I don't know whether this is for safety or for the peace of mind that comes with knowing that if you die, someone is going to die with you.

I don't fear heights, but I do have serious personal space issues. I don't even like being on the same bus with strangers, much less being harnessed to one. And what if I don't make a good first impression? I don't even make a good 18th impression, so what if this fellow gets about six seconds into the jump and decides he'd really rather complete the journey solo? One snap of the hasp and there I am, one living room too many.

The second problem was the sheer number of Herald-Mail employees participating. It sounded like at least 10 to 15 people would be going along. I mean one day you're working at a newspaper, the next you're surrounded by the 82nd Airborne.

But more disturbing, I learned that all but two of the new skydivers were women. Each of them told me innocently that they were simply interested in a "new hobby," but they couldn't hold my eyes when the spoke. Then to avoid further interrogation they'd mutter something about "having to make some copies" and would run down the hall.

Gentlemen, I think some networking is in order, and I will act as the intelligence clearing house. At your place of business, have large numbers of women suddenly developed an interest in skydiving? If so, let me know immediately. I don't want to use alarmist, inflammatory words like "surprise attack" or "Dan Quayle," but we could be in real trouble.

Maybe the women at The Herald-Mail were acting alone, and then again maybe they weren't.

I tried to cut a deal - get them on my side. I thought "who's going to ever again dispute my opinions if on command I can summon legions of females falling from out of the skies?"

For as long as I've been here, you would think my ideas would be taken more seriously.

It became increasingly obvious that in dealing with these women I was in over my head.

(It reminded me of my brother's friend Dick, who once took up with a really flashy, citified broad who, frankly speaking, was a couple stations above him in life. Predictably, she dumped him after a couple months. He took it philosophically, though, contending that it was probably his own fault for having "outkicked his coverage.")

So I kept my mouth shut until the weekend was over, thinking it might simply be a passing, one-time, get it out of your system, fad. Well, of course that wasn't the case. They loved it and now they're talking about becoming certified.

Great, just great. Other companies have a parking lot, we'll have a landing zone. But if they start harnessing themselves to each other during lunch, I'm leaving.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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