The Weight Is Over
"I pulled into Nazareth, I was feelin' about half past dead . . ." That is one of the greatest first lines in song history, and has always been a favorite of mine. Maybe now it's a favorite of Pat's too, since the name of the song is "The Weight," and Pat's been feeling like dead weight lately! Read her funny story, here:
Can refusing to reveal one’s weight make a helicopter crash?
This question weighed heavily (pun!) on me as I prepared for a recent vacation excursion combining a helicopter trip to Alaska’s Mendenhall Glacier with dog-sledding across its snowy surface.
Excitement became terror when I was advised I would have to disclose my weight to the helicopter owners, factoring in clothing too, so the aircraft would be properly balanced for takeoff and landing. Anyone over 250 pounds had to purchase two seats.
Although I could safely promise one was sufficient, no way was I going to divulge my weight to strangers.
First of all, I don’t even want to know how much I weigh with clothing. So how could I possibly provide an accurate total that also included Alaska summer attire of gloves, winter hat, fleece jacket plus raincoat?
Second, well, second is I’m too vain to tell anyone my weight (and also my age, by the way).
I considered my options. If I lied, would the helicopter crash because of it? Not only might everyone perish, the investigation would later reveal to the world that the tragedy was caused by a woman too shallow to share her weight.
Was I willing to risk death and my reputation for vanity?
After days of soul-searching, I concluded the answer was: YES.
I decided to claim 100 pounds, but realized the helicopter pilot would have to be blind to believe that and no one wants a pilot with vision problems.
And what if he challenged me in front of everyone? I wasn’t going to step on a scale in public when I studiously avoid them in private. I needed a solid defense if he said something like: “Lady, if you weigh 100 pounds, I’ll eat my hat.”
Although I’d enjoy watching that, a clever retort was necessary. I settled on: “I forgot that my gloves and hat probably weigh at least five pounds each and when you figure in two jackets at 25 pounds, that’s probably more accurate.” I practiced saying this in front of the mirror, but even my own eyebrows arched in disbelief.
After weeks of worrying, I was greeted on the cruise ship with a form that merely sought verification that I weighed below 250. I quickly scrawled my signature and breathed a sigh of relief. But that disappeared when I was handed a clipboard at the helicopter pad. On top was a form to declare my weight.
I swallowed hard and wrote a remotely reasonable number, figuring I could claim I forgot to factor in my rain poncho and winter accessories if anyone interrogated me. The company employee eyed me suspiciously, but said nothing. I only hoped a “fudge factor” was routinely added for those who understate their heft or fail to accurately estimate the additional weight of the company-provided waist life preserver and glacier “boots.” When it came to load the copter, the two skinniest people were assigned to the front seat while I and another normal-sized woman were relegated to the back, apparently to offset a man large enough to fill two spaces. At that point, I feared all of us had lied.
To my great relief, the helicopter landed safely. My inaccurate weight calculations had not caused an air disaster after all. But when our group approached the sled, the dogs began barking loudly. I can’t be sure, of course, but I suspect they were looking at me and saying, “There’s another woman lying about her weight. We’re gonna need more dogs to carry the load AGAIN.”
Watch Pat's dog sledding here! (Hmm, I don't hear them complaining, Pat . . . !)