The other side of ‘Roof Topper’Last week I wrote about “Roof Topper,” a young male who I discovered leaping from my rooftop to other rooftops, causing intermittent damage in downtown Dickinson, prompting me to call police who quickly came and, as they looked for him, he fell from another rooftop to the concrete below and sustained multiple injuries.
By: Kevin Holten, The Dickinson Press
Last week I wrote about “Roof Topper,” a young male who I discovered leaping from my rooftop to other rooftops, causing intermittent damage in downtown Dickinson, prompting me to call police who quickly came and, as they looked for him, he fell from another rooftop to the concrete below and sustained multiple injuries.
I also mentioned that his fall was caught on a security camera and I can’t, for the life of me, understand why he’s still alive, but I’m glad he is and now I’m even feeling a little bit guilty. Why? Well, because he’s young and a little like my son.
You see, he called me out of the blue to apologize and what I discovered during that conversation is that he’s really just a nice kid, a long ways from home and a little bit frustrated and too often alone.
Of course, we all know plenty of not so desirable aliens who have invaded our little Oil Patch like flies did your Fourth of July picnic and yet, there are some gems in the rock pile and this guy could possibly be one of them despite his overindulgence in firewater, the devil’s brew, hooch and libations on an empty stomach on that one night in question.
So that’s why I’m doing a follow-up story about him. Because two weeks ago I did a story on gluten intolerance and a week ago I wrote about Roof Topper, not knowing that those two stories would suddenly become one, which you’ll better understand as you continue reading.
I was also prompted by an email I received, 20 minutes before he called, sent by my mother who, in her motherly way suggested that I contact the wild-eyed perpetrator and do a follow-up column describing “his side of the story,” because, after all, he might just be a nice kid going down the wrong road.
I’m also doing it because it is my belief that our oil boom is putting plenty of pressure on the daily lives of not only you and me but also on the lives of a lot of the people from out of town that you and I see.
So I sent him a bunch of questions, planning to write an article from the answers he supplied and, in the midst of reading them, discovered that he can tell his story better than I.
Where were you born and raised? I was born in Middlebury which used to be a small town in Vermont. It’s been a college town since 1800 and the shire town of Addison County since well before the American Revolution. I was raised a few miles away on a dairy farm. We milked around 200 or so Holsteins at our peak.
What is your fondest memory growing up? In the summer it was all about hanging out at the bike shop. We had quite a large mountain biking club. I made my first big purchase there, a green 21-speed Raleigh M80 and was really proud when I bought it with all my summer’s savings, especially since it was the best bike on the school bike rack.
In the winter it was always about my love affair with snow. My brother and I carved out snow forts from the pile of snow my dad made cleaning up the driveway. The Boy Scouts also introduced me to alpine skiing and I raced in high school, never destined to win any Olympic medals like one of my classmates did, but I had a great time just the same.
What is the size of your family and what do your parents do? That depends how you define family. There’s Mom and Dad, who are divorced and my brother. My brother and I always fought like crazy but have learned to respect each other through the years. I am really proud of him right now because he’s a diesel mechanic and an entrepreneur. He also started a soybean operation this year and we had a good time trying to troubleshoot a troublesome spout on his 1991 Case-International 1688 Axial Flow Combine. My mom works for a toy company that makes classic wooden toys out of rock maple. She also keeps the books for my stepdad’s construction business. My dad inherited the dairy farm from my grandfather along with my uncle until it folded and now he works in the parts department at a tractor dealership. My mom’s family has roots in the Chesapeake Bay where my grandfather had a marine construction business. I love going down there around the 4th of July and eating blue crabs steamed in old bay and drinking beer.
What is it about your parents that you most love/respect? My mom stops at nothing to achieve what she is after. She was the first girl in her school to join the Future Farmers of America, the first girl who took a diesel mechanics class, she played baseball with the boys and got her teeth knocked out playing softball. She’s also been on the nightly news with some senators because she was angry that the Smithsonian was buying Chinese and not American toys for their souvenir shop.
Did you go to college and where? I went to the University of North Carolina — Charlotte where I earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering Technology. While there I worked on applied engineering during the day and on building race car engines at night. I graduated in 2009, right after the economy collapsed. None of the jobs I wanted were open to me and they instead went to candidates with more experience or higher degrees. I was eventually hired by the company I work for now, moved to Casper, Wyo. and then transfered here to help get a new shop going.
What does your current job involve? I’m a field service technician, which often involves making things work with sticks and mud. I do everything from assembling down-hole mechanical parts, repairing and troubleshooting surface electrical systems to playing with satellites in outer space.
How did you end up on the roof of the Odd Fellows Lodge? Your guess is as good as mine. I have always been an avid climber. My mother tells me that when I was between 1- and 2-years-old, I used to push her out of the kitchen so I could climb the kitchen cabinets. (I also watched our dog dig under a fence to escape and did the same with my playpen).
Read the rest of the interview with Roof Topper in Holten’s column next Wednesday on The Press website.
Holten is a freelance cartoonist and columnist from Dickinson.