FIFTY FLOORS OF FEAR


photo credit: Four Seasons New York

One step up a ladder makes my palms sweat. Imagine my near-heart-attack when I stepped onto a scaffolding on the side of the Four Seasons Hotel in New York City: Fifty Floors off the ground.

I was filming the reconstruction of the penthouse suite. Two floors of absolute elegance were being prepared for the owner of the hotel. The gigantic windows would provide the best view of New York, but they were too big to travel in the elevator, so they had to be pulled up from the ground by a crane.

Field producer, Larry Frank, looked at the open holes where the windows would be placed. He turned to me and said, “You have to go outside and get the shots from the scaffolding.” I looked at Larry, then at the window holes, then again at Larry and said, “Are you freaking kidding me?”

The construction foreman handed me a hard-hat. If I fell off the scaffolding at least my head would be protected from the fall. I looked out the window. There were several workers walking back and forth outside. OK, that’s it. I took a deep breath and stepped through the hole onto the platform. “Don’t look down. Don’t look down. Don’t look down!” I repeated to myself. Unfortunately, I looked down. It was an amazing moment.  Fifty floors below me was the concrete jungle of New York City.  Yellow taxis covered the asphalt. People on the sidewalks were as tiny as ants. One more deep breath (perhaps my last ever!), then I raised the camera to my shoulder and started filming the action. The workers smiled as though there was no danger; and actually there was very little chance of splattering on the pavement below.

Finally back inside, Larry and our assistant, Robbi Mermel, applauded my brave efforts. Now it was time to head back down to the real world, stopping at the bar for a celebratory adult beverage.

Would I do it again? HELL NO! But it is a fond memory of a time when I stepped out of my comfort zone and wondered what my next perilous assignment might be. . I’ll stick to hanging out the open door of a helicopter with a camera on my shoulder . . . it’s much less frightening.

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