balloon.jpgYesterday morning, I saw one of the odder scenes I've experienced in a while. I was entering my favorite morning haunt, the Seattle's Best coffee shop at a local bookstore, and I saw three men staring up to the ceiling, looking at a small helium balloon. Just a standard balloon, mind you, with a short curly sting or "tail" made out of thin ribbon. The ceilings in the store, mind you, are maybe 16 feet high - too high to be reached standing on a chair.

The problem was that they needed to retrieve the balloon safely. (No, I don't know why this particular latex globule was so important, and I didn't ask.) So throwing a dart at it or shooting it with a BB gun was out of the question. I guess they could have brought out a ladder to do it, but this would have potentially put someone at risk, since you're always vulnerable when you're standing on something with latches.

The clever solution that they devised worked right away, brought the balloon safely to the ground, and put no one in danger.

Here's how they did it. Please comment to advise us how you might solve the problem, with minimal risk to personnel and safe retrieval of the balloon.

THEIR ANSWER: The store's maintenance man brought a vaccum cleaner with a long "wand" attachment. They plugged it in, turned it on, and he reached up with the attachment. It drew the ribbon in just slightly, and he gently lowered the balloon just enough to reach it - smoothly, like he'd done it a thousand times before.

How would you have gotten the balloon down without risking damage to the balloon or the person retrieving it?