I had a mini-freakout today when I saw the headline "Climber Scales Tower in San Francisco" on the New York Times website. (The SF Chronicle also has a longer article about this event.)
You see, about a year ago, inspired by a New Yorker profile of Alain Robert, the Human Spiderman, I wrote a one-act play about a group of disgruntled office workers in the Transamerica Pyramid who start a letter-writing campaign to convince an Alain Robert-type figure to fly to San Francisco and climb the Pyramid. They think that this will give their lives the purpose, drama, and glamour that they currently lack.
I don't think that this play of mine will ever be produced, it has its flaws, but ever since I wrote it, I've been fascinated by these strange daredevils who scale skyscrapers. I confess to being disappointed that it wasn't Monsieur Robert who showed up in San Francisco today (the climber was an American named Dan Goodwin, aka Spider-Dan), and that the building he climbed was an anonymous glass apartment tower, not something distinctive like the Transamerica Pyramid. All the same, the reactions from observers of Goodwin's climb, quoted in the Chronicle, express the central question I was exploring in my play. Are these climbers attention-seeking idiots, or are they inspirational people who are living their lives to the fullest?