A survival story: “The hat I didn’t want to lose”.  I lived in Ohio until I was three, then moved to a New York suburb at age four.  While in Ohio, my big brother and I walked together a few houses away to where we saw a bunch of big kids (ages 6 to 9, my guess)  playing on a one-axle abandoned flatbed trailer parked in a grassy lot.  They were scurrying up the high side, and causing the whole trailer to come crashing down, over and over again.  It took the weight of all of them to cause it to crash down on each end time after time into the dirt, and it looked like none of them would ever tire of playing what started out looking like a something fun, until something happened which turned it into something much more dangerous.

The photo below, is of my big brother and me, standing on that same empty lot.  As I stood watching mesmerized while a bunch of bigger kids played on top of that trailer,  someone had gone behind me, and
swiped my hat right off from my head.  Soon, I saw that my hat was lying clear underneath that trailer, and right in the precise spot where I would quickly learn that it was nearly impossible for me to retrieve it from either ends, or side.  It lay underneath, right “smack-dab” in the middle.  However, since it was cold, my hat had become a part of me, and I did NOT want to lose my hat under any circumstances.  So, my mission that morning (and I had no choice but to accept it) was to get my hat back, “no matter what the cost(s)”.

Those kids looked like they were having the wildest time of their lives playing on that trailer, as if nothing else mattered, and nothing would have gotten any of them to stop, or slow down for even a second.  So, I ducked my head enough to crouch down, and inch my way around one of the huge (compared to me) rubber trailer tires, and went, dangerously underneath that trailer staying close to the axle, duck-walking across to the very middle close to the axle, and saw how the whole wooden planked floor above my head moved back and forth.  I could see, even in the shadow, just how far away from me my hat was, and I knew that I would have to be fearless to retrieve it, because the trailer just missed squishing my hat each time the trailer came crashing down on it.  Being fearless wasn't hard for a three year old who didn't know any better.  I squatted underneath, and stared at my hat, while the huge heavy wooden planked trailer floor crashed down, first on one side, then on the other, over and over again quite quickly. 

I could see that I’d have to negotiate through hardened and/or slippery clay like mud, in order to get to where I might be able to reach it, but I deduced (even as a three year old) that I'd have to hurry, or else I would be squished.  I tried haphazardly but “chickened out” before reaching it, because I knew that my body, and/or even my head wouldn’t FIT where the hat was, or even near it after the trailer floor came crashing down.  So, I nixed attempting to reach for it from the inside, out.  There just wasn’t enough headroom for me in the area where the hat lay.  The trailer tires were half-buried, and were stuck frozen in the mud, which probably also explains why the trailer was left there in the first place.  Duck-walking over the hard and irregular slippery frozen surfaces was much too difficult, and each time I did so, and reached toward my hat, the closer the plank came to crushing down on me.  I’d just have to, all in one quick perfectly timed move, stay completely balanced on the irregular slippery surfaces both going toward my hat, and coming back, or I’d be squished. 

I remembered that it wouldn't work trying to reach my hat from underneath the trailer, and my decision was probably more influenced by knowing that my mom wouldn’t have liked me coming home all muddy or, worse, chance having her find me lying there both muddy, and flat as a pancake underneath that trailer.  So, I abandoned my plan, and duck walked back out from underneath, doing my very best not to get dirty.

I walked around to one of the outside ends of the trailer, and pondered as I watched the screaming, ecstatic kids scurry up to the high side, how to accomplish grabbing my hat from the outside in time. I stood close to the end, and watched.  Now, I was able to take better into account how long it took for the heavy wooden planked trailer floor to come crashing down each time.  I could see that my hat was still there right in front of me just feet away, but underneath, and out of reach.  But, I WANTED my hat! 

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