Confined Spaces

Last night was something new…

Our instructor told us to grab air packs, head up to the tower’s 2nd floor, don our gear, then head up to the 4th floor.I’ve never been in the room on the 4th floor of the tower, so I didn’t know what we were in for.

As I entered the room I could tell what was going on. It was an obstacle course that looked like a giant wooden tunnel. It started in one end of the room and snaked its way around the room and back to near the start.

I’m not afraid of heights and I’m not claustrophobic. When I was doing roof ladders a few weeks ago, it confirmed that I was not afraid of heights (that’s a relief). As I’m sizing up the confined spaces obstacle course I’m thinking to myself “Well…. here’s my opportunity to confirm whether or not I’m claustrophobic”. Thankfully, I’m not!  :mrgreen:

Added bonus: for our first run through we got to have the lights on!

140117-F-KW102-056As you enter the tunnel, the top of the tunnel drops sharply to about 2 feet off the floor. It looks super tight, but if you wriggle on your belly, you dont even have to move your air bottle off to the side. As you move forward, the floor begins to slope upwards, and there is an opening out of the tunnel (where you have to go around a corner to get back into the structure). About half-way to the opening, the floor drops from below you (and the instructor yells out “TEETER TOTTER BITCH!!” to many giggles from the class). As I exited, I could barely contain my own giggles. (yes, giggles… ) It was a lot of fun. As serious as this business is, sometimes it’s good fun too.
Coming out of the first tunnel, you round a corner, and you have to slither underneath the entrance for the second portion, and the way forward is actually above you, but between narrow studs. The trick here is to get on all fours, and go up bottle first. You ease your bottle between the studs, then try to fish your shoulder through after it. If you can get your shoulder through, you’re golden, and just about to the wires section.

MaskConfidenceCourse12The wires are electrical romex and cat 5 I think strung all through the space. The trick here is to get your back against the wall so that you shove your bottle into the corner of the floor and the wall (and you’re essentially face up). Then you stick your hand up like a shark-find and push the wires out of the way while you slither through. (exactly like the firefighter in this photo is NOT) As I was going through, my regulator got caught up in the wires. I stopped, thought through it logically and fished myself out, giving myself a mental pat on the back for not panicking and moved on to the next section.
Next up was an area with hanging boards and weights that bang into you while the instructors are banging on the outside of the enclosure. I blew through this section and came to a sofa that totally chokes up the space. I wriggled over it and got past it with no problem by pulling my bottle to my side and tucking it under my arm, and then wriggled out of the escape hatch at the end by getting flat on my belly.

All in all not too tough, but I was not on air,  we had the lights on, and we were not doing it for time. I’m sure that our next encounter will be a lot more challenging.

It dawned on me this morning that the confined spaces course is sort of a metaphor for the last 7 years of my life. I started to feel completely trapped in my career field (I.T.) and really wanted out. In the meantime I’m ducking, diving, and wriggling out of countless situations that could pull me down into emotional death. Sometimes I would just have to bide my time, think it through and disengage as appropriate. Over time the obstacles changed somewhat, but the struggle stayed the same. I just had to keep my head down until the way forward became apparent and then fight with everything I have.

I’m on my belly and wriggling with everything I have. I see the light.


Note: Photos aren’t mine and link to their original web location.


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