One particular Wednesday night in March of my 30th year, I was at my parents’ house sitting at a table in the living room while working on my laptop. They were at church, and I was there by myself. It had been raining for several days and was still raining. I could hear the fat drops as they pelted the roof above me.
For a week or two, I’d been having trouble with the joystick on my chair. There was a short in the wires at the point where they entered the joystick housing. It was the frustrating kind of short that wouldn’t let me find the exact spot or wire position needed to make a connection and make the chair do what I told it to. So, it would randomly stop or turn when I least expected it, and then it may or may not start right away while I jiggled the wire in an effort to find the magic spot again.
So, as I sat there at the computer goofing off like a pro, I heard what sounded like hail or the big fat drops of rain that fall from a tree when the wind blows. It’s easy to hear the rain in their living room because of the vaulted ceiling, so I didn’t think much of it and didn’t look up from the screen.
Then, I heard the noise again, and it took me a second to realize that there was a solid stream of water coming from the ceiling and a hunk of sheetrock had fallen right beside me. I looked up as a large limb slowly penetrated the ceiling directly above me.
When I was able to comprehend the severity of the situation, I fumbled with my joystick as I cut the chair on, and tried to reverse with all haste. ––Error– So, I power cycled the chair as the water began dripping on my knee and the limb came a little further into the room. As soon as the screen lit up, I pulled back on the stick, and holy hairballs it moved! …about 6 inches. –Error– After three or four more tries, I managed to get the wire to make connection and backed across the room. As I calmed down from the fear of being crushed slowly while fumbling with a wiring problem, I watched the limb’s progress slow and finally stop while rainwater continued to splash on the carpet.
Once I reached a place of relative safety, I called Dad too let him know his house sprang a leak. So, he and mom immediately left church to rush home and survey the situation. Upon walking into the house and seeing the new organic/post-apocalyptic theme taking over the living room, Dad went to borrow the neighbor’s chainsaw, and Mom called the insurance agent. Their agent told Mom what contractor to call and to tell Dad to take the chainsaw back to their neighbor and stay away from the tree.
At 8:00 or so, within 20 minutes of calling the contractor recommended by the insurance agent, there was a Bobcat and 15 workers climbing all over the house cutting limbs and patching holes. There was another round of rain expected before 10:00, and they were determined to get it patched enough to make it until morning without any more water getting in the house. That’s exactly what they did, too. They didn’t just tarp the holes; they patched the plywood and spliced in felt paper and new shingles. While the shingles didn’t match, they at least worked.
By the next afternoon, there was a new roof on that end of the house, and the only evidence they’d been there was the missing blackjack gum tree and a set of deep ruts in the yard from dozens of trips by the Bobcat between the backyard and a trailer used to haul away the fallen tree. A couple weeks later, one of those restoration companies you see on TV advertisements had everything dried out, and the contractor had replaced the broken ceiling sheetrock and beams so that no one could tell there was ever a tree in the house.
…and that’s the story of how my chair tried to kill me.