An e-mail came round this afternoon, asking for sponsors. This is fairly common in a company our size, with as many agents as we have on this site alone, though a check is kept to ensure we’re not always being bombarded with requests for money.
The reason this one caught my eye is that it told me that three of my team-mates plan to raise money by throwing themselves out of an aircraft at 15,000′ – with parachutes, naturally, though with some of my team-mates I’d gladly contribute if they promised to do it bareback, so to speak. Not only that, but each of the three of them will be carrying someone on their backs (I assume the passengers will also be wearing parachutes, as this could be an intense period if they were to be doing it bareback). If it were me, I’d definitely be clinging like grim death to the female member of this courageous and philanthropic trio, but then I’d welcome a much less fraught excuse to cling tightly to her any time.
It reminded me of the occasion on which I was asked to volunteer for a parachute jump.
I was at my second firm, the one in the centre of Manchester, one of my two favourite employers as a Solicitor. This was the one where everyone, with one exception, was within a dozen years of my age, either way, with the great atmosphere, and the enviable record of sports and games that we played, though these only involved the men.
It was, I think, somewhere in the early summer of 1985 when our junior cashier, Shirley, came up with the idea of a parachute jump, and went around asking everyone if they were interested.
It was something I’d neither done nor considered, and I was interested by the idea. Several people were, and we left it for her to organise.
It never happened. I have no wish to blow my own trumpet but the honest truth was that if I organised it, it happened, and if anyone else did, it didn’t.
One thing that became apparent, several weeks later, when Shirley brought the idea up again, was that I was no longer prepared to do a parachute jump. She was disappointed at my withdrawal and pointed out that I’d been so enthusiastic when she first brought it up.
Where Shirley had gone wrong was obvious: she had allowed me time to think about it. To think about flying along (which I had never done at that point) through the unsupported air, about staring out of a door into the void and the unsupported air, and finally about actually letting go of the aircraft and falling precipitately through the unsupported and unsupporting air.
If she had somehow managed to get me to that open door within half an hour of asking if I would do a parachute jump, she might have been able to do it, though honesty compels me to state that she would probably have been pushing it if she’d given me thirty seconds to think.
Nowadays, and in fact at any time after that little non-escapade, there would be no chance. I would be clinging to the plane in a manner that would make a leech of a limpet look Teflon-coated and I would take large handfuls of the plane frame with me if you ever managed to get me through the door, before which I would have made sure that all involuntary, terror-based projectile emissions had been carefully directed at anyone trying to throw me out.
In short, you are never going to get me up in one of those.
So, whilst I respect and admire my three colleagues and the worthy cause for which they are doing this, I am deleting every possible thought of what they are going to do to themselves.
Better them than me – and I REALLY mean that!