I've never had what one might call an irrational fear of heights. As an adventurous kind of guy, I've more often than not reveled in the joys of altitude. Maybe it's the sense of danger. You know, giving gravity an advantage over me should it happen to get the best of me when I'm aiming to escape its clutches.
But the point is, the rare times I do find myself afraid of heights, it's purely, 100% rational. Indeed, there are instances in which I find heights more terrifying than, say, Cher in a bald cap. This fear was thrust upon me last Friday.
It was an ordinary day in the theater, and there was work to be done. As luck would have it, I ended up having to use the Genie. If using a new and stable Genie, the experience is actually really sweet. You feel like you're on top of the world (literally), and once you get over the initial uneasiness of being so high up without a fully walk-able floor beneath you, it's actually lots of fun.
However (you knew this was coming, don't deny it), in the case that the Genie is old and of questionable sturdiness (as was the case for me), the experience is quite different. Needless to say, I bravely grabbed a wrench and hopped into the basket, then pressed the buttons that sent my soon-to-be beloved solid ground away from me. I rose steadily higher, still not expecting the vertigo that was to come (I had been up in a Genie before, but one that was considerably more stable, not to mention new; thus, the whole vertigo phenomenon was not part of that experience).
Once I arrived at the suspended lights I was to focus, I yelled down to the guy who was helping me out from below.
Me: "Okay, I'm all set."
Him: "Okay, do [technical feat]."
Me: "I'm on it."
I proceeded to do said technical feat. In the process, my intense focus on the light was disrupted by a sudden sense of circulation. Distracted, I diverted my eyes from the lights, first looking straight forward, and then slowly letting my gaze fall upon my feet. I had hoped that it was just an adrenaline rush, but was crushed to discover that the whole basket was wobbling in circles. My body swayed with the motion, my feet swaying in motion with the basket, and the rest of my body following slightly behind that rhythm.
Instinct kicked in, thankfully, and my grip tightened around the pole holding the light. Fortunately, that helped me feel more secure. Unfortunately, the wobbling only got worse, and when I looked up at the pole, it dawned on me that the damn thing was itself suspended from steel wire. This did nothing to boost my confidence. Rather, it threw into question my sanity. On the plus side, it strengthened my resolve on one very important issue: I had to get the hell out of there.
I pestered the guy below until, after a few more agonizing minutes of fiddling with lights (me thinking the whole time that I was surely about to encounter doom at any second), I at last was given the go-ahead to come back down.
I swear, the machine could not return me to earth fast enough, and once my feet were back on solid ground, I felt a sudden urge to fall forward and kiss the ground. Thanks to nerves and muscles that were all tense, I was unable to actually act upon this urge. Which is probably a good thing, considering how disgusting the newly painted stage no doubt was.
I'm happy to report that I emerged victorious, and have adjusted quite well to life on solid ground once again. With newfound appreciation for that solid ground, too. It really is lovely.