April 13, 2020

The Fire Escape Ladder & The Bed Sheet Escape Rope

Corey Shirey

The Fire Escape Ladder & The Bed Sheet Escape Rope

As a kid, I can remember being completely paralyzed by other people’s opinion of me. Some of you that know me well, know this to be true. Where this longing for affection comes from, I'm not quite sure. Maybe it's the fact I feel inadequate as a human being. Maybe it’s the lack of faith and confidence I have in myself. My quest to answer this ever lingering question has come up empty handed, i'm afraid. I’m not sure there is one real, tangible answer. Rather, it is a culmination of unsolved “demons” and events in my past (recent past as well). Those are the questions that have perplexed my subconscious for years. Today, however I am much less concerned with the opinions of others. I suppose jail, and being a degenerate at times, will do that. Anyways, in my youth, my affinity for attraction, quite literally became dangerous. Sometimes so dangerous it put my life in jeopardy, or at the very least, my physical health. 

However, let’s not get too dark today. The Coronavirus has given us all this dark “looming cloud” hanging over our heads already. This is a more comical article, than the previous paragraph would lead you to believe. This is a story of a Boy and a Girl’s relationship. The story of how the boys need to “follow the crowd” caused them to do some pretty crazy things. Words like weekend partying, sneaking out, and fire escape ladders (yes you read that right) became a normality in their vocabulary. Sounds like your typical high school love story right? I can assure you, it is not (in a funny way). Some of you know this story, have heard me tell it, and can recite the ending. Please, keep it to yourself and don't spoil it for others! 

Oh im in there, check out the dude with the shoe in his face....

So we begin. 

The boy, of course was yours truly. A 16 year old high school senior, utterly consumed with trying to be “one of the guys”. I don't say this in a bad way, I think it's only natural to want to fit in. Nor was it the fault of any of my friends. They never pushed or pressured me to do things. Quite the opposite, we were a pretty tight knit group to be honest. I think fitting in makes us all feel slightly “normal”. But, like everything else in my life, I seem to take things to the extreme. The stove is hot, so I must touch it. That is how I have  learned some of my most painful life lessons. 

Enter the girl. 

Cristin and I met  (maybe it was fall homecoming) our senior year. We had homeroom together for as long as I can remember (Shoulder, Shirey last names). Everyone, and I mean everyone, liked her. She was funny, pretty, athletic, and smart to top it all off. We spent a lot of time together, during school and outside of school (even when we were not technically “supposed” to be seeing each other). I think you may be seeing where this is going right? 

Hahaha what feels like a lifetime ago!

16 Year Old Priorities

So, my senior year was when I started down the partying road. Now, my parents were not fans of a 16 year old going to parties (crazy right!?). Thank God, because lord help me,  it's a wonder I survived. I was the kid who showed up late, grabbed the closest Vodka bottle (usually 99 apples/berries mixed with mountain dew) and chugged it literally until he passed out, blacked out, on the couch sleeping 15 mins later. I swear, there were parties I went to in high school, that I remember  at most 10 mins. That is no exaggeration at all (some of you can attest to this).  So, like I said, my parents were very stern on this issue. While most people were out on weekends, I was at home. I hated missing out, hated missing time with my friends. Didn't my parents see they were ruining my life! (haha a 16 year old’s priorities).

So after weekends frivolities missed, parties never attended , and “my life ruined” (again some humor here); Cristin and I devised a plan. Looking back, it's pretty incredible how efficiently this plan worked. All the moving pieces, the planning, and the close calls. Anyways, how could I sneak out, and back in, without being caught? That was the question, and it was quite a hard one to solve. There were some major roadblocks on my quest for freedom. 

The Plan

The first, and probably the scariest, was my mother. She was a light sleeper, and when I say light I mean if the floor cracked she sprung into action. She could hear pin drop at 1000 paces (as my Dad would say). The second, was the alarm. As I quickly realized, I couldn’t just sneak out the back door. This would inevitably set off the alarm and I would be in some serious trouble. Two problems in desperate need of two solutions, as my social life depended on it. 

It was actually Cristin who came up with the idea to solve our “problem”, and it was quite genius. I didn't have text messaging (this was a time when texting was just starting to really catch on, not at all like today where your grandparents text you), so I remember the phone ringing one night “Cristin”. She introduced me to, which I had no clue existed, the fire escape ladder. That’s right. Stuck in a burning building? This collapsible fire escape ladder could be thrown out your window for a quick escape from the burning inferno. Also, it was collapsible, which means easily hidden (I kept it in my book-bag in my school locker, so my parents wouldn’t find it) I literally screamed through the phone “There's no way such a thing exists”. Sure enough, one week and $20 later, she brought it to me at school! Problem two was solved, there were no alarm sensors on the second floor. As logic, and gravity, would tell you, it was a bad idea to try and sneak out (or rob) someone coming from the second floor window. Thus, no alarms needed. Seeing as my bedroom was on the second floor, the plan was starting to come together. 

This is EXACTLY what it looked like. Those two "hooks" wrapped around your window cil securing it in place.

The Preface

Maybe I should back up, I need to preface this story. Some of you are thinking, man how did it get to this point? A fire escape ladder? Really? Well yes, remember when I said “following the crowd” became dangerous for my physical health? Before the introduction of the fire escape ladder, we had tried a previous trial run with what I like to call the”bed-sheet escape rope” . That's right,  like in the movies, I had tied my bed sheets together, anchored them to my dresser, and threw them out the window. The scariest part wasn't the climb down, remember this is the second story we're talking about here; it was crouching on the precipice of doom (on the window-cill) looking down, grabbing the sheets with both hands, turning around 180 degrees and leaning back out the window. Basically, I used the sheets to “rappel’ down the side of my parents' fully brick house. It was the leaning back that was the scary part, for two main reasons. First, and the most obvious, it was a test of the strength of the sheets. Once I put my weight on it and leaned back, I would quickly find out if my apparatus was constructed properly, or if I would plummet to my certain death (most likely a broken bone). The second and less obvious, was once I leaned back, if there was a problem (aka the sheets ripped, as they did one time), I had really only one option. I couldn’t climb back in, as the sound of the tearing sheets were making me painfully aware, so my option presented itself. Commit, take the plunge. However, I miscalculated poorly the dangers of my attempts at escape, and paid dearly for it. The sound of fresh skin sliding down the side of a brick house was my reward. I landed, laying there in pain, my chest rubbed raw, and bleeding from my contact with the brick wall. 

This is what it looked like, obviously this is not my parents house but you get the drift.


As I lay there bleeding, all I could think was, OH MY GOD I AM SO SCREWED! How do I explain this to my parents, what do I say, my life is over! My brain was rapidly scrambling through the possible explanations. “Tell them you were looking out the window and fell’. No that doesn't make sense. It was 12 midnight, why would you be looking out the window and have the screen taken out from the inside? Stupid. Wait a minute, I could scale the gutter back up and inside. A quick jerk on the flimsy aluminum revealed this was impossible. It would surely break. Then my attention was drawn to a blue circular object called “the trampoline” sitting in the backyard. Oh yes, this would work, I remember thinking. So I dragged the trampoline over, under my window, and did some test bounces. I was really close, but remained an arm’s length away from grabbing the ripped sheets that hung out of the second story window. How to get higher? I realized that if I started on the edge farthest away, ran toward the house, and jumped as high and hard as I could off the trampoline; before hitting the wall  I could use the brick  and push off with my feet (as I'm flying in the air towards the solid brick exterior). It gave me those few extra feet I needed. 

Perfect Timing

This had to be timed just right, and there was no room for error. My raspberry chest was the reminder of what happened when my plan failed the first time. So I backed up, took off full sprint, jumped up, rebounded off the trampoline, kicked my feet off the brick wall, closed my eyes and extended my arms fully as I could.  I braced myself to grip the ripped bed sheets hanging from my window. I knew I had to grip with the force of God if I was to make this work.  Euroeka! Success. As I opened my eyes and looked up, in both hands (gripped tightly) were the remnants of the “bed sheet escape rope”. I slowly  pulled myself back up the wall. My arms were shaking, from both nerves and fatigue. Finally, I reached in the window, gripped the window cill and pulled myself in. I had done it! 

I was gleaming, the uncontrollable feeling of escaping the wrath of my parents flooded my brain with endorphins. I sat on the bed exhausted, bleeding, dripping with sweat from the climb up “Mt. Vesuvius”.  I  started laughing about how stupid I was. But, I had made it and could finally go to bed! As I lay there, I was hit with a sinking feeling that jarred me from my dozing sleep. The trampoline! What about the Trampoline!? How will you explain why there is a trampoline at the bottom of your window? Take a look at the picture and you'll see what I mean. So, what did my logical 16 year old male brain think the solution was? Climb back out and move the trampoline. Yea,  that will work. Then tie up some more sheets to make your “escape rope v2”  and you can climb back in. Easy enough. So with gleaming confidence, I re-tied the death rope and looked down at the trampoline.

My Room was the "Top Left" Window. Im standing in the driveway while I took this picture. You can see why a trampoline, that close to the window, and the driveway would cause my parents to question things.

A Change in Strategy

This time, I wasn't going to rappel. This time, I was going to drop from the window, and since the trampoline was there, I would be safe. Thus, eliminating the possibility the bed sheets would break (or rip). So I leaned out and jumped, however I miscalculated the physics of my endeavor. I hit  the trampoline with the speed of 9.8 meters per second (squared, this is the acceleration of gravity which affects all falling objects on this planet) I rebounded off the springboard, flew through the air,  my arms flailing to keep my body upright and in control, and landed flat on my back. No time to sit and ponder, it was now 4am and my parents would be waking up to take us all to church soon. I pushed the trampoline over, back to its original spot, and stared up the face of my climb (AGAIN). 

However, what was becoming a trend on this night, I once again miscalculated. I had used the ripped sheet that remained hanging out my window, and tied a new sheet to it to make my new rope.  Since the small ripped sheet held my weight before,  I knew it was securely fastened to my dresser. Most importantly, I knew it could hold my weight.  However, what I failed to predict was the knot (that I tied between the “ripped sheet: and the “new sheet”) had to be ungodly tight or it would come apart. As you can imagine, as soon as I pulled on my stairway to sanctuary, the two sheets came apart.

Miscalculations and Impending Doom

I was screwed. There was no way back in, and now the time was rapidly approaching my parents would be awake. Panicked and tired, my foggy brain came up with only one solution. Take your lumps. I walked to the front door and rang the doorbell, shaking. My ear was pressed hard against the door trying to gauge what hell was about to befall me! I heard the footsteps, loud and angry, as if the creator himself was coming down the steps. The door swung open, I could imagine what my mom was thinking at that time. Seeing her son, his chest covered in blood, scraped up and bruised, ringing the doorbell (and what time was it). She was all too confused and puzzled, i'm pretty sure a few expletives started flying out of her mouth.  I was tired, bloody, and embarrassed so I told her. It was time to just get it over with, this was already a 6 hour process and I was sick of it. She responded, “What are you stupid or something? Get your ass in here and go to bed.” I had escaped doom, for a day at least. As I lay in my bed injured, sleep quickly flooded in and took over. I think I fell asleep in less than a minute.

Lessons Learned

Looking back, my parents and my family laugh about all this. They’ve always said, “That's like something out of a movie, you need to write a book about all of these things (trust me there are plenty more).” It's crazy, when I think about it, the lengths I was willing to go to “fit in”. I mean I literally built a bed-sheet rope, to repel down the side of my parents house, all because I didn't want to miss a party. It's also quite disturbing to me, that I cared that much about what other people thought. Maybe you can relate (hopefully not to that extreme)? But, I think it’s important to realize that sometimes trying to do what everyone else is, being a follower, can put you in some dangerous situations. Be yourself, pave your own way, and stop apologizing so much for who you are. We only get one go around. This isn't call of duty, there are no re-spawns in this game.

Im not even sure what to say about this picture.


P.S.  Just want to send congratulations to Cristin on becoming a new mother! Exciting and scary I have no doubt. Maybe this is one story you shouldn't share….  Haha Just kidding!

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About the Author:

Web Designer, Digital Marketer, and Blogger. Certified in both Google Analytics and Google Ads (As well as many other qualifications, which you can view on my LinkedIn Profile). A listed "Top Expert" on the Kartra platform.

Premium Design Partners was started with the goal of helping small businesses achieve an online presence through SEO, an incredible web design, and content catered to promoting their brand.

Former construction professional (Superintendent for 10+ years), who understands and values an "honest day's work". Enjoys softball (And baseball, but softball now that I am old), constant gym sessions, and anything that pushes me mentally and physically. After all, life is a strive for improvement and knowledge. Meaning, in order to "climb the next rung in the ladder", you must be focused on improving yourself. If you aren't striving to reach "the next best you" in life, then what's the point?

Corey Shirey
Premium Design Partners
CEO & Founder