The Perils (and Poo) of Rollerblading

The Podcasting Store
3 min readDec 14, 2023

by Drew Holmes

“There I was, at the top of the hill, when it dawned on me that when you’re new at rollerblading going up is way easier than coming back down.”

I was regaling Bob Spano, Music Director for the Brooklyn Philharmonic (and therefore my boss), with the tale of the previous weekend’s adventure.

“Then what happened?” he asked with rapt attention.

“I picked up speed as I bombed down the paved pathway. About halfway to the bottom I remembered the bridge. At the base of the hill was a stream, so the path took a 90 degree turn to the left, another abrupt one to the right, and then across a wooden bridge over the water.”

Bob leaned it with deepening interest.

“For a moment I thought ‘I can make it! I just need to do two quick turns.’ Then the reality of the situation kicked in. I was going too fast and had no way to control my speed. Exploring my options, I noticed a small patch of grass between the first turn and the stream that looked soft enough to keep me from suffering irreparable harm.”

“What did you do?”

“I abandoned any hope of making the turn. As I careened towards the bottom I aimed for the grass and flung myself onto it.”

“Shit!”, exclaimed Bob.

“Unfortunately, yes. Hidden in the grass was a big pile of dog shit and I landed squarely in it. But otherwise I was not hurt.”

We had a good laugh over my misfortune and went back to work.

For me, rollerblading was an unexpectedly difficult skill to learn. Our family frequented Roller World when I was a kid, so I had practically grown up with skates on my feet. But that was a standard 2x2 wheel configuration. Having all four in a straight line was remarkably difficult.

Undeterred by that incident, I kept at it. The cemetery near my apartment was the ideal place to practice, so afternoon breaks from bowing string parts were spent speeding around the pavement. Fortunately, the residents did not notice or comment on my frequent falls and constant swearing.

A few months later I left the Brooklyn Philharmonic and moved to Florida to start my new position as Principal Librarian with the Naples Philharmonic. Still wanting to master the skill of rollerblading, I skated a loop around the apartment complex. Overconfident in my skills, I tried full throttle jumping over a speed bump and wiped out spectacularly. Two shredded knees and thigh covered with road rash confirmed the lesson I should have learned earlier — I am not meat to rollerblade.

The line between tenacity and stupidity is extremely narrow. I had learned to skate while still in elementary school, back when I was fearless, and wounds healed rapidly. Two decades later, the game had changed. Blades are vastly different than skates and the literal blood sweat and tears necessary to develop the new skill just were not worth it. I do not recall if the rollerblades were donated to a thrift store or put on a table at a yard sale, but they never adorned my feet again.

I know now that while thinking I was showing perseverance, I was really putting myself on a collision course for serious injury. Fortunately I realized that before causing my body permanent damage. In the words of the great philosopher Dave Mustane from the Megadeth song Sweating Bullets — “Mankind has got to know his limitations”.

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