At the company meetup in San Diego, a group of us got to go skydiving. It’s not something I’ve ever really thought about doing, but I figured as long as the offer was on the table, I might as well go. We drove a rather long way to get there, and then we couldn’t find the place. When we finally found the hangar, I had some idea that we’d stand around for awhile and I’d psych myself up, but everything happened really fast. We were a big group, and they could only take two up in the plane at a time, so they were going to have to hustle to get us all done by dark.
So, we were immediately presented with 20-page waivers to sign and encouraged to initial every page and do so as quickly as possible. The waivers were ridiculous – they basically stipulated that if the skydiving guys decided to throw us out of the plane sans parachute just for the hell of it, we would not sue nor would any of our decedents for the next million generations. This did not inspire confidence.
Once we’d signed those, they asked who’d be the first two to go. The only other woman along, my coworker Sheri, immediately grabbed my hand and said, “Us!” (“It’s better this way,” she said.) Two seconds later, a grizzled ex-military guy was strapping me into all kinds of very personally intrusive rigging while giving me a rundown of how I was to behave on the jump so as not to kill us both.
“When we sit on the edge of the plane, tuck your legs under you and put your head back as far as you can. This is very important. When we go out, I’m basically using your body as a surfboard, so you have to keep your head back. Otherwise, the cross-currents will pull us into a tailspin. I can still salvage things if that happens, but it won’t be good. Got it? Repeat all this back to me so I can be sure you understand, because this is very important.”
Later, I found out that the other skydiving guys gave no such instructions, but just let my coworkers flop out of the plane any old how, so I think my guy was just a bit of a nervous Nelly. I did not know that at the time, however, and when we went out the plane, my head was so far back, I could see my own heels.
Anyway, once we were all rigged up, we walked out to the plane, which was very tiny. My guy and I sat in the back, and Sheri and her guy sat in the front.
The scenery was really beautiful as we went up, but I was busy thinking about dying, and also trying to be suitably lively for the camera the guy kept trying to get me to perform for (we had videos made in addition to these photos, but I am not going to post mine, because it’s very embarrassing).
When we got to a certain height (I forget how high), Sheri went out first, so I got to watch her get sucked over the edge. Then, my guy pushed us both forward so our legs were hanging out of the plane. And then there was a lot of bundling about, and then!!!
You don’t really feel like you’re falling when you skydive. Instead, you just feel like you’re suspended. It really feels like flying, not falling at all. The free fall was fantastic – as soon as the shoot popped, I wanted to go again immediately.
As we floated down, the guy let me pull the shoot so we spun around in circles really fast. He pointed out where the Mexican border was, where a giant penitentiary was, and other interesting sights. Eventually, we landed, which seemed like hard work for him, although all I had to do was sit there. A couple guys were waiting to help him and they all rushed forward and there was a flurry of activity as they worked to quickly detach the still-billowing shoot from us, before we got dragged all around the desert.
Once I was down, all the skydiving guys took the van back to the hangar to go again, and Sheri and I stood out in the desert by ourselves for awhile until the next two in our group landed. We all waited out there like that for the rest of the day, watching everybody come back down to earth.