Andrej vs. Plastic Bag

This is a brief recount of last night's events that I decided to write up in the hope that I'll think twice before I decide to do something silly like this. ;)

Prologue. I have been struggling with this nasty cold for a few days now. It's not one of those debilitating colds, rather it's one of those persistent colds where every morning your throat feels like you've been chewing on razorblades.

Opening scene. I'm sitting at my house, in my office. Against better judgement I went out and bought some blinds for the room. The time had finally come to take down the plastic shower curtain that acted as a sun blocker for far too long. I mounted the blinds and, lo and behold, the room suddenly started looking pleasing to the eye. This room has been a guinea pig already for the wacky color scheme: the bottom third is dark grey, then a thin stripe of white, then a thin strip of yellow, and then light purple all the way to the ceiling. This should represent a sunrise. It kinda does, actually, even though most people wouldn't agree with me. :)

The Plot. The night has fallen and I'm sitting in this newly revamped room, looking out the window to the street. Nice and peaceful, we had snow the day before but a very nice sunny day yesterday. It was around 11pm. I am looking outside, sipping on caramelized milk, lamenting the huge oak in the front yard that PennDOT condemned so that they could build a better drainage system and will bring it down in a year or so. My gaze gets fixed on this bag, an ugly, white plastic bag that has been entangled in the branches of the oak tree for a few months now. In fact, I seem to recall noticing it first right after the tropical storm this past Fall but it could have been there even longer. So, invigorated by my DIY success of mounting the blinds, I figured what the heck, let's get that bag off that tree. And it's not like I haven't tried before, it's just that the bag was wrapped around the branch big-time and the branch was just high enough to be out of reach for any tool I had.

The Event. I stepped outside, thinking I'll do this if it kills me. Little did I know that this was indeed a distinct possibility. I gauged the height and figured that there really is no way I can reach it with anything. So I went inside and took a metallic leaf rake, figuring that, if I toss it up just right, it can get a hold of the bag and pull it down. You can imagine what the reality was. After a few well aimed attempts at the bag (out of, say, 50 attempts total), I managed to tear it up into stripes, so it no longer looked like a stuck bag, now it looked like a prank pulled on me by my modeling analysis students. So 20 minutes into this endeavour I made things worse. Oh, and of course my leaf rake now looks like something Picasso designed. So I went inside and grabbed a sturdy garden fork, figuring that, since it's more massive, I may stand a better chance. A few tosses later and the bag was laughing at me happily, the fork essentially wondering what it'd done wrong to be used as a dart, and Fermi becoming good at aiming exactly for the places where the fork would land. I'm going to show that bag, I thought to my self, as I flung the fork at it for the thousandth time. Yep, that did it. I managed to toss it up so well that it got stuck in the branches, out of my reach. So I figured I'd knock it down using my Picasso rake, but that didn't work. It was wedged really well up there. Ok, I thought, I'll go get my indoor painting ladder and then I could reach it. So I did, and sure enough, I managed to reach it. As I pulled on it, it dawned on me that, since it's wedged, I can actually get the branch with (at this point completely torn and stripy) bag within reach of the rake. So you can now picture me balancing on my indoor ladder, pulling on the fork with one hand and reaching with the rake towards the bag, wobbly as ever, sick at -2 degrees C. Darn, the rake was too heavy and, since I had to hold it all the way at the base to be able to reach the bag, the torque would slide it down and out of my hand. So yep, a few times I had to swing the rake back up so that it would stay up vertically, then reach for the bag, then get frustrated because the bag wouldn't catch to the rake, then torque doing its thing. Sigh... I quickly realized that there is essentially nothing that I can do to set the bag loose from the branch. This wrestling has now been going on for good three quarters of an hour and the bag was still up there. In a moment of divine inspiration, I finally thought of something that might actually work! I have an electric trimmer -- you know those loud tools with zigzaggy teeth that go back and forth and people use them to trim the bushes -- and I figured that, if I stand on the ladder, pull on the fork, and extend my arm all the way towards the branch with the entangled bag, I may just barely reach it! So I grabbed the electric trimmer, got up the wobbly indoor painting ladder, pulled on the wedged fork, extended my arm and ... darn, I needed two hands to turn the trimmer because of the security switch... So undoing what I did, holding on for dear life because of the wobbly ladder, I start the trimmer, then pull on the fork, then stand up on the ladder, and then reach for the branch... Victory was finally attained, with minimal casualties! The actual entangled branch was quite thin and the tip of the trimmer just reached it, it flew off and... got entangled in another branch...

The Epilogue. By this time I was actually laughing (and coughing) at the silliness (and stubbornness) of this endeavour, thinking that someone observing from afar would have had an entertainment of a lifetime. Not to mention a clear winner for America's Funniest Home Videos. After I carefully (and barely) managed to gain footing on the ladder, putting the trimmer on a little plastic ledge, then straightening back up, pulling on the fork, I was able to reach the branch, untangle it and toss it to the ground. Successfully and victoriously I crumbled off the ladder, thinking to myself I showed that bag. In a few minutes, I was back in my office room, sipping on hot tea, looking out the window and lamenting the old oak that will be torn down in a year... Then it occurred to me that, had I waited till this morning, I could've gone to Sears (which is 2 minutes down the road), buy those extended clips for next to nothing, come home, clip off the branch and be done with everything in 2 minutes. But hey, then I wouldn't have my Picasso leaf rake to attest to this glorious victory over a plastic bag! :) Now if only I figured out a way how to get that wedged fork off the oak...