My office sits on the fifth floor. There is a fire escape out back. I often go out on the fire escape to eat lunch and enjoy nice weather. Today, I stand on the fire escape. I look at the parking lot five stories down. The sky is overcast, but it’s warm. There is no wind. The parking lot down below is a darker shade of grey, and strangely inviting. I hang over the edge of the fire escape, taking in the scene. There is only one thought in my head: “I really shouldn’t.” But I’m going to.
I take a few steps back. I walk to the stairs and sit down. I open up my package. I begin assembling my purchase. I have been playing with these since I was six years old. Assembly is instinctual. I slide the wing though the body. I slide the smaller wing through the tail. I lay out the plastic pieces, and begin sorting through them. The pin goes through the propeller, and then the pin goes into the hole on the plastic nose cone. With this complete, I gently slide the nosecone onto the nose of the plane. My glider is assembled.
I take the glider and walk back to the edge of the fire escape. I had always wondered…how far would one fly from a great height? The fifth floor is a great enough height. I look down at the crowded parking lot below. I have second thoughts. I really shouldn’t do this. What if I’m seen? What if it bonks someone in the head? I’ll bring shame and disgrace to the company! I take two steps back from the edge. Then I remember. I’m leaving this company. I turn around again. I really shouldn’t. I turn around again. Ahh, screw it, I think. I spin around as fast as I can and throw the glider.
It flies. It soars out over the parking lot. It flies straight out. There is a slight gust of wind. It is now banking slightly to the left. It circles over the parking lot like a hawk. It makes another loop. It appears it will fly over the vacant lot and into the street. It continues to circle. Now, it will crash into the side of the building. It continues to circle. It’s spiraling down and down. It is heading towards the parking attendant’s booth. It narrowly misses the windscreen of a minivan and land on the asphalt.
I look at the glider, five stories down. I can see it perfectly. When I first thought of this, I thought that the glider would be written off. But there it is. It is recoverable. I can go downstairs and pick it up. I really shouldn’t. It is gone. Lunch time is half over. See? There are two people walking past the glider. They will pick it up and throw it away. They don’t. The glider is sitting on the pavement. I should go pick it up. But I really shouldn’t. A car moves to exit the parking lot. It runs over the glider. I can hear the crunch 5 stories up. It’s gone now. The car pulls away, and I see the glider is still intact. Resilient little bugger. Maybe I should go get it. But I really shouldn’t. I begin to walk down the fire escape.
I descend the stairs rather slowly. It is still my lunch break. My hands are in my pockets and I am perfectly relaxed. I arrive at the bottom of the first flight. I peek over the side and see the glider still lying on the pavement. I continue walking down the stairs. At the bottom of the next flight, I again peek over the side. The glider lies on the asphalt. I continue walking down the stairs. I reach the bottom. A gate is in front of me. I open the gate and step onto the ground.
I walk across the parking lot. I walk to the downed glider, filled with calm. The glider is beneath my feet. I bend over and pick it up. I inspect it for damage and see that it is still in a flawless condition. I stand up and wave “Hello” to the parking lot attendant. He looks at me. I turn and walk to the loading dock. I push the button for the freight elevator. I step inside and press the button for the fifth floor.
I arrive at the fifth floor. I step out and head towards my office. I look at the door to the fire escape. I look at the door to my office. I really shouldn’t. I go back outside. I again feel the warm sunshine on my face. I look at the parking lot, five stories below. I look at my glider. With less trepidation, I give it a toss.
It flies again. It soars on the straight and narrow. No sudden gusts to steer it off course this time. It continues on a straight path. It begins to dip slightly to the right. It begins its decent. It glides down and to the right. It flies over the chain-link fence. It soars across the railway tracks. It makes a perfect landing on the railway platform.
Retrieval now would mean buying a train ticket. It is time to give it up, accept that it’s gone. But it performed so valiantly. It surpassed all my expectations. I cannot leave it for dead. But it is just a glider. I really shouldn’t. I decide not to.
I turn and I sit on the steps. I enjoy the sunshine while my lunch hour lasts. I look at my watch. Five minutes remain in my lunch hour. I have a class to teach as soon as my lunch hour ends. I should go back inside. I should start greeting my students. I should start organizing my materials. But the sunshine is so warm. The sky is so clear. I should stay out here a little longer. I really shouldn’t.
I go inside.