A while back, my neighborhood found itself in the path of a strong thunderstorm. I’ve heard that it could have been classified as a “microburst,” but I’m sure my friends in the Midwest would scoff at such talk. No matter, it was a strong thunderstorm with high winds and I was blissfully unaware of its approach. I heard rain, and I heard the wind whipping at the house, and then thunder – I didn’t pay much attention until I heard my children start screaming.
As a parent, screaming children is part of the job – but this was different. There was true panic in their voices. “DAD! DAAAAAD! THE TRAMPOLINE!!”
The trampoline. My wife, The Megger, had spent weeks trying to buy it and had driven 3 hours to pick up, and now, in the face of a thunderstorm, it wasn’t secured. I had been trying to grow grass, and as a result had been moving the trampoline from spot to spot while I watered the lawn. It was a poor decision for someone who neglected to check the weather.
My children were pointing to the backyard and screaming and, sure enough, the trampoline was dancing to the sound of crashing thunder. I quickly sized up the available options and chose the worst one – I sprinted outside and grabbed the big, metal trampoline.
I can envision my father reading the above sentence, shaking his head, and thinking, “I swear, we went over this so many times.”
Once out there, I realized how loud the world around me was – thunder crashing, winds whipping, tree branches and, I found out later, trees themselves falling. Out of the cacophony, though, my ears picked up the sound of my shed door repeatedly slamming in the wind.
A note about the shed – it’s one of those plastic sheds from the big box stores that they complain about in the commercials. It’s a fine shed – we had it installed last year – but it hadn’t even been up for a full day before my sweet little daughter went outside and tried to open the doors. She pulled and she pulled with all her might, completely ignoring the shiny lock that was in place, and managed to bend the plastic doors. As a result, the doors tend to hang open at the top, just a little, and it takes a determined effort to shut them so they stay shut.
As a result, my shed door was not shut. In fact, it was swinging back and forth in the wind to the point that I was nervous about it flying off the hinges. I let go of the trampoline, walked 3 steps to the shed, and made sure that the door was solidly closed.
I then took a step back toward the trampoline. At that moment, the trampoline leapt into the air and took flight, directly away from my outstretched hand. The flying saucer crashed through my neighbor’s fence without a moment’s hesitation and sailed straight for my neighbor’s house.
It’s a shame that there isn’t a picture of my face at this moment, as I stood slack-jawed and terrified, because I was convinced that my trampoline was going to smash into my neighbors’ sliding glass doors.
Instead, my wayward tramp bounced off the neighbors’ trampoline (which, to its credit, never moved), changed direction, and got hung up on their porch. It was at that point that I snapped out of my trance and realized that I was standing outside in the middle of a serious thunderstorm. I ran into the house and we all went into the basement to wait it out.
As soon as the winds died down a little, The Megger and I freed the broken, bent trampoline from the neighbors’ porch and staked it down in their lawn, where it remained for the night. The whole affair had lasted about 15 minutes.
Upon reflection, I was very lucky. Trees and branches came down in the yards next to me and didn’t land on me. The lightning did not take the opportunity to show me how unwise it was to stand in an open area gripping a metal object during a thunderstorm. The trampoline, when it did its impression of the Gale house, flew away from me and not through me. Despite my stupidity, only stuff was injured on the trampoline’s maiden flight.
The fence was fixed, and The Megger found some replacement parts for the trampoline, and I still ignore the weather reports, so things are pretty much back to the way they were. Except, of course, the trampoline is now securely fastened to the ground and can only dream of its short, but exciting, time aloft.