Blind Faith

When I was a kid, I went to the 5th street ramp as often as I could find a ride. “5th Street” was a halfpipe that was 12 feet high and 20 feet wide, with 2 1/2 feet of vert. A major breakthrough for a 10 year old ramp skater is starting from the top and “dropping in.” The problem is when you are standing on top of the ramp looking down, you can’t see the top half of the ramp. What often happened was people would hang their board over the edge and stare down into the ramp. This would inevitably scare them out of going through with it.

One day, I was at the ramp with some other kids, one of whom wanted to drop in. He asked for advice, and I told him not to stare at the ramp. He walked up the ladder in back of the ramp, walked to the edge, placed his skateboard over the edge with one foot…and looked straight up at the sky. I thought he was praying…Then, still looking straight upward, he went to put his other foot on the board…which he very nearly accomplished…and fell straight to the bottom of the ramp.

Because of the ambulance and chaos that followed, it took me a while to realize that I was to blame. He was just trying not to stare at the ramp. A few years later, I ran into him, whom I was able to identify because of the gnarly scar on his forearm. I felt terrible. Unfortunately, I was never able to give my revised advice for dropping in, which would be: “Put BOTH feet on the skateboard and don’t fall.”

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