Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Beware of Falling Ice
The other day I was walking from my office in Allentown to my newly assigned parking lot. I suffer the fate of having to park in the lot furthest away from work. I quip bitterly that I park in the next town over. The first five times I guess it was funny. Now they think I am just bitter about the whole situation. And yes, they are correct.
From work, I walk down a long alley in between the county government building and a 19th century church. Glancing upwards, I spied several large icicles the size of stalactites hanging off the church roof just ready to come crashing down on whomever was treading below. Now we aren't talking about the icicles that as kids we would break off and eat. Ummm...did anyone else do that besides me? (silence ... crickets chirping) Anyway, the icicles on the church are the size of baseball bats. If one hit you, it would definitely knock you out or worse like stab you like the lightening rod did to that poor priest in the first Damien movie, you know the one, The Omen, 1976, which totally scared the crap out of this 6 year old boy for years to come! And on I ramble....
As I carefully made my way down ice alley, I thought back to the winter of 2000 when I was a skinny 30 year old running to my job as an office clerk at the Philly gourmet goods company, Caviar Assouline. I was running late as usual and decided to cut across the upper end of Independence Park.
My circuitous route took me down Arch Street on the south end of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. I remember it being a warmer day after weeks of ice and snow. The winter had begun its thaw. Sidewalks all over Philly were blocked with signs declaring "Watch for falling ice!"
That particular block of Arch Street was cordoned off with yellow caution tape and signs. And if you couldn't read, there was a nice sign with a picture of someone being struck by ice. Other signs ominously stated, "Danger, this side closed!" "This means you Marc Haynes!" "Use the other side you DUMB ASS!"
That didn't deter me! Nope, no siree! I looked up, and although I saw icicles hanging from the top of the building several stories up, I felt that the fates were with me and I could make it safely to the other side of the block. I stepped around the caution tape and began my journey down the narrow length of sidewalk along the bank.
And of course almost immediately, I heard ice breaking above me. I let out a frightened, "Oh CRAP!" and bolted like a snowshoe hare down Arch Street. I got about halfway down the block and was struck by falling ice. With the wind knocked out of me, I slumped to the sidewalk and think I momentarily blacked out.
When I regained my senses, two bank security guards which had witnessed everything were helping me to my feet. They bounced back and forth from "Are you alright?" and "Are you an idiot?" Suffering from embarrassment, I just nodded yes to both questions. I have to say though that through the reprimands, both guys seemed genuinely concerned. Either that or they were just relieved I was still alive. "Didn't you see all the signs?" "Are you crazy?"
"Um, no," I began, "Just late." I shrugged off the pain between my shoulder blades and hobbled like the Elephant Man the rest of the way down the block. Once around the corner, I sat down on a park bench with the wind still knocked out of me. After about 5 minutes, I gathered myself together and eventually made it the rest of the way to work, late.
So these days I take no chances. I always look up and am wary of hanging stalactites. I always abide by caution tape. And I have tremendously improved my sprinting speed down city blocks, just in case.
I wrote a blog post the other year on 3 ways I almost died but forgot to include this one. Seems like I now have a fourth. Check out the other post I wrote through the link below: