10 September 2008

Graded On The Bell Curve

Lacking bus fare, I decided to try walking from GCB Health Services at Madison and Victory, back to downtown/OTR. I had taken my daily alottment of, among other things, an nsaid called diclofenac. My arthritis made long walks a rare event, but I had an intuition that today I could do this. What the hell, I needed the exercise. I walked Victory Parkway to McMillan, McMillan to Park, cut across Cross, and headed south, i.e. down the steep grade on Kemper. I intended to follow Nassau west to Gilbert, but found myself fascinated by a pair of Cincinnati Bell service vans parked bumper to bumper on Kemper. It's been years since I've been able to afford a vehicle, but certain driving habits must remain hardwired in our brains. Parking on a steep hill, for example, involves turning the front wheel so that, if your parking brake fails, and if the transmission pops out of gear --- or out of park if it's an automatic --- your vehicle will roll into the curb, thus avoiding disaster. It's a three-level system of precaution that everybody learns, especially people who live in hilly cities like Cincy. However. Cincinnati Bell equips their vans with a fourth level of parking-safety. Wheel chocks, attached to cables, which are in turn attached to D rings bolted to the floor of the van. Just like the chocks used at small airports to prevent the odd Piper Cub from wandering around on the tarmac. But there was something wrong with the picture on Kemper Lane. I stared at the wheel chocks placed beneath the tires. This is not possible, I thought. Both vans had chocks placed beneath their front tires, and both chocks were on the upgrade side of their respective tires. Either both drivers of both Cincy Bell vans made the same mistake, or maybe some prankster came along and switched the chocks to the wrong side. I looked around, but the Bell workers were nowhere in sight. They could have been working in any number of houses or commercial buildings. It's possible they were underground, or down the street having lunch. My hip was getting sore. I knew there was a decorative brick wall down the street were I could sit and rest, and there were Metro stop benches on Gilbert if I needed to sit again. I'm not sure why, but I elected not to reposition the chocks myself. Apathy? Anxiety about getting noticed and being accused of vandalism? Of being accused of placing the chocks incorrectly to begin with? Maybe I'm just another schlemiel who doesn't want to stick his chin out. But I decided to hold my cards close that day and continue on my slightly gimpy way. Three rest stops and an afternoon dose of diclofenac got me through the day. Since I heard nothing on the news that evening, I'm assuming the inertia of a body unacted upon is what got Cincinnati Bell through their day.

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All original text (C) 2007, 2008 David J. Carney. All rights reserved.

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