Sunday, February 27, 2005

A Guest Post from my Colleague, Josh: City Hall Can Be Veeeeeerrrry Slippery! Written 2/25/05

This is the tale of one mildly concerned citizen hoping to lower the incidence of broken hips on a wet snowy night. On Feb. 24 at about 6:30 PM, I crawled out of the subway on the SW corner of Chambers and Centre Streets. It had been snowing for an hour or 2. About 30 or 40 feet north of the subway exit I saw a businessman in his 40s or 50s slip and fall on his back, an elegant bit of stuntery that took approximately 0.03 seconds. I turned toward him asking if he was OK as a woman did the same. He said yes, got up, and walked on. The woman explained to him and me while wiping the sidewalk w/ her foot that it was really slippery right there because of a plaque in the sidewalk. As I walked away, I thought why not call 311 about this. Maybe they'll put up a yellow cone or something. I was walking heading west across Chambers to Greenwich St. and up about 4 blocks. The process was a bit more involved than I had imagined. I was on my cell until about 10 steps from my destination, some 10 to 15 minutes later. I talked to 3 individuals, all of whom were pleasant.

I explained to 2 of the 3 people that "there is a very slippery spot about 40 feet north of the subway on the corner of..... and I just thought you might mark it for other pedestrians." The second person I spoke w/ asked if that was in Brooklyn.

The third person, who took down my info, was courteous but a bit slow on the uptake. After waiting for her for what seemed like several minutes, she explained that "there is so much to put in before I can take your information, sorry!" "No problem," I assured her. Eventually, as I came within a block of my destination, I mentioned that I had to go soon. I decided not to mention to her toward the end that my phone hand was about to freeze and fall off. I sensed that she had all she could handle already.

At about 8:30 that night I went back to the same spot on my way home, and there was no evidence that the authorities cared. Maybe I should have said something to the 311 folks about how routine dangers add up to a terrorized mentality for working people and that budget cuts are destroying our public spaces and communities. That might have occasioned alerting Bloomberg, who would have taken time off from his busy schedule to fix this problem. After all, there must be some money in it.

Signed, Josh, sociologist and occasional thoughtful citizen.

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