Be Careful.

Recently while walking down Broadway I almost met my doom.  If you live in this town long enough, the occasional near death experience is par for the course and seldom noteworthy.  You might think to yourself, “Whoa! Close one,” and then wonder about lunch. But this happened to be a good one.  It was morning and I was walking south on Broadway headed toward Spring Street.  Doing the commutation shuffle: looking down, coffee in hand, up in my head and navigating on autopilot.  I was vaguely aware of being in parallel lock-step with a woman walking next to me.  We must have paced this way absently for about a block, tunneling under the ubiquitous scaffolds, when suddenly and without warning something massive passed centimeters in front of our noses at warp speed.  It landed on the pavement with enough raw force that the resulting shockwave blew a Learning Annex kiosk over.  Looking down, a 150 pound bag of dry concrete lay at our feet. Quikrete, actually.  I turned to the random woman standing next to me and her face was probably a reflection of my own.  Yikes.  We didn’t swear or gasp or yell; perhaps the realization that if we were one half-step faster we’d have been flattened to the sidewalk was enough.  After who knows how long standing there, we engaged in peculiar small talk. “That could have killed us,” she said. “I know,” I said.ScaffoldI became aware of another pedestrian screaming, and I realized a random guy who saw us almost get squashed was now loudly raging against the workers high up on the scaffolding above.  “You ought to be sued! You almost killed those two people! I ought to call the police!” and so on.  It was nice he cared, but it added a layer of intensity that was hard on the nerves.  “I’m going to go,” said the woman.  I agreed, and we both started walking again.  We developed a block-long friendship, the kind I think unique to big cities. We talked about how weird it would have been to go out in that fashion.  And it’s true, most of us probably don’t imagine meeting our Maker at the hands of a sloppily tossed bag of cement from the sky while ambling down Broadway.  Anyway, our gallows camaraderie was short lived.  At the corner of Broome, I turned to cross the street to work and bid her farewell.  In return she said, “Be careful.” Which is certainly good advice.

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