NEW YORK (AP) — Rain is normally nothing more than a mild annoyance for a reporting assignment outdoors. But this was no normal day. I was supposed to climb to the top of the Brooklyn Bridge.
As the clouds gathered and the wind kicked up, I dropped my two small children off at a friend’s wondering whether I was about to make them motherless. I drove over the bridge slowly, looking up, feeling queasy.
The Brooklyn Bridge towers soar 276 feet above the East River between Manhattan and its namesake borough. It’s a constant target for possible suicides and pranksters. I was going up with a team of the New York Police Department’s Emergency Services Unit , officers who are trained to rescue people from dizzying heights. To them, this was nothing.
“Just trust your equipment,” they kept telling me, fitting me for a safety harness before the march up a support cable, on a curved surface just inches wide. My Associated Press colleagues — video journalist Ted Shaffrey and photographer Julie Jacobson — seemed unfazed, if not excited. They both hiked up with their cameras, shooting along the way.
I, meanwhile, wondered why I signed up for this.
The clouds parted and the sun came out. I clipped into two narrow wires alongside the outermost cable, which slopes gently up, becoming steepest at the stone tower. I took a deep breath and focused on my feet, treating it like a tightrope circus act. The officers leading the way were so comfortable they jawed about the stunning Manhattan skyscrapers in the distance, the ferries below, the people on the street, the cars on the roadway.
I thought: “If these guys don’t start walking faster, I’m going to barf.”
I stayed outwardly calm and just put one foot in front of the other, listening for the soothing click of the harness latch on the wires until I made it to the top. We stayed up just long enough for a briefing and some photos. I wrote my husband to tell him I hadn’t fallen yet. The fear wore off for a moment.
Then we headed back down.
A sergeant in front of me kept looking back and chatting with me, as though we were having coffee.
“Sergeant, you’re making me too nervous,” I told him “You’ve gotta stop turning around.”
I paused a minute to look out over the city before I kept going, relief washing over me as I finally reached the bottom, happy to have made it without a scratch.
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