The Phobia

We all have our little phobias. I’m pleased to say I’ve overcome most of mine. When I say overcome, that’s not to say I’m now entirely comfortable with each little phobia. Only that none of them have me all in a sweat or cowering behind a sofa any more. I can handle them. Aerophobia, haemophobia, thanatophobia, belonephobia and ergophobia have all afflicted me at some stage in my life. But I can now board a flight without my stomach tying itself in knots, I can see blood without fainting, I have accepted that all good things must come to an end and I now appreciate that in order to get anywhere in life, a days work is unavoidable.

There are two phobias which remain. Electrophobia is perhaps the biggest because it is something I have to deal with on a daily basis. I can now change a light bulb, although I used to refuse to even consider such a thing. I’d have rather sat in complete darkness. But still, I loathe static and will automatically touch many metal surfaces with a sleeve, just in case. But electrophobia doesn’t bring me out in a sweat. So from that perspective, the biggie is acrophobia.

I don’t like heights. Although how do I define a height? The highest I’ve been, bar air travel, was atop a 5000+ metre mountain. That’s not a problem. I guess it’s a sheer drop I don’t like. Did you know that humans aren’t born with a fear of heights? Babies can crawl to the edge of an abyss and not bat an eyelid. Apparently, or so I have read, a fear of heights kicks in upon learning to walk. I can pin point the moment I discovered my fear. At the top of the Lookout Tower at Cheddar Gorge in Somerset. I was a wee lad and had raced to the top with my brother. Then I looked down and panicked. I descended, ever so slowly, on my backside one step at a time. Ironic. Right now, the Lookout Tower is probably the least scary place in Somerset.

Heights really do bring me to the verge of panic. Yet I am drawn to high points. It makes no sense. My most recent encounter with acrophobia was atop the Angel of Independence, and this isn’t the first post I’ve ever written confessing my weakness. I can’t even watch a video of a daredevil doing something risky at a great height. Well, I say I can’t watch it. I force myself too, even though I become more and more uncomfortable with every passing second. There’s a lot of videos on YouTube of people doing nutty climbs up man made or natural objects. But I believe I’ve found the pinnacle of nuttiness. Still under construction, but already the second highest building in the world, I give you the latest skyscraper in Shanghai and the most twisted high five in history.

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18 comments

  1. My favorite ‘fear of heights’ story is from the steel mill. A journeymen millwright and I were assigned the task of changing a ventilation fan in the ceiling of a 120 foot high millhouse. This was before cherry pickers and high lifts were used for such things. We had to build a scaffold,the fan was was off from the wall a ways so there was nothing to tie the scaffold to for stability. We get this wavy platform built and haul all the tools and parts up the 120 feet to start the tear out and replacement. I notice the platform is shacking. My millwright is huddled in the middle of the platform shaking-not good. I told him, ” I think I can handle this myself, why don’t you go down to the ground and be available to send up anything I might need” The man looked at me like I had saved him from the rope, He said” do you mean it?” And down the scaffold he went.

  2. And the guy was no coward, he had a tin box full of metals from his island hoping days in WWII, he had enough shrapnel in his body to make him magnetic, a coward,no.

    1. A fear of heights isn’t cowardice. It’s just good old fashioned common sense. Like not stepping in front of a train, or not touching a 20,000 volt cable. I don’t even know why it’s listed as a phobia.

  3. I’ll admit I keep the safety bar down on the ski lift and if there is no bar, I keep my arm around the support bar. I dislike nailing the first few edge rows on roof jobs, bent over, head below one’s center of gravity, blasting away with an air hammer, I can see how easy it might be to tip right over into free fall. I don’t mind working the center of the roof but the edges give me the willies. .

  4. Who’d a thunk? I had no sense of your fear when we ascended to the roof of the Metropolitan Cathedral in DF’s Zócalo that day. Of course we kept well away from the edge. Still, that’s high enough really to not want to fall from.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we’ll admit to feeling butterflies, but still enjoy being up where there’s a view.

  5. I had a small panic attack crawling through an air duct doing a steam cleaning job in the steelmill. It was hands and knees work, steam to the point of one could not see the walls of the pipe at times, hot as blazes, filthy from the animal fat rotting on the air duct surfaces and with no reference to up or down, it tripped my rational trigger.

    I had a scary job in the oil fields that should scare any normal person: There were times when the gas pressure in a target formation would blow the drilling mud out of the bore, natural gas mixed with water and mud would be shooting up out of the ground. My job was to drag a 200 lb manifold under the drilling rig’s work deck, lift the manifold onto the pipe sticking up out of the ground and screw it on real careful like because a spark would not be good. After I jockeyed the manifold into place, I had to beat two iron pipes to the manifold with a brass sledge hammer (no sparks) . I did ware fire proof clothing. We would then pump a heaver mix of drilling mud down the hole until it stopped acting like Old Faithful and then cement the puppy off. I kissed the ground of the steelmill when they called me back to work.

    I do not like working below grade without proper shoring, I do not like working with people who drink on the sly, I avoid people who think chainsaws, heavy equipment, explosives and , guns are toys. Reckless folk in general scare the hell out of me.

    1. Yeah, confined spaces aren’t a favourite of mine either, although they don’t overly bother me if I’m in that situation. I’ve been into a few caves with tight spaces that had me feeling uncomfortable. And reckless folk….yes.

      My favourite phobia? Obamaphobia. How he gets some people frothing at the mouth is most amusing.

      1. Obamaphobia is a close relation to Clintonphobia, I foresee an epidemic of irrational behavior in the next few years. Politics: sports for old people.

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