Sunday, February 16, 2014

From the weight of the snow


A couple has come in to see me about getting married. On July 4th.  But before I can talk with them, a man comes in and tells me that a man in a wheel chair outside is asking for Father Bob. That would be me. That would be Sean.

So I go meet Sean at the 86th street door. Struggle to help him in, get the battery hooked up, help him switch from one wheel chair to another. While he’s still working in that, I go back and meet the couple, apologizing for taking a while. Another mixed Chinese- Irish relationship from Queens. Another New York story. After we finish, I go to see Sean but he is gone.

So I go for coffee at Barney Greengrass. As I’m getting ready to leave, the cashier says, I see they fixed the scaffolding. 
What? I say. And he tells  me that this morning, a section of the scaffolding over our front doors collapsed from the weight of the snow.  Someone called the Fire Department and they arrived. Cut the sidewalk off with yellow tape. And called the scaffolding company who arrived, rebuilt the scaffolding and added extra braces at street level. 
They just left about an hour ago, he says.
I look at him. I didn’t know a thing  about it, I said, I’ve been here about an hour. Not a thing…
Look outside, there’s still some yellow tape.
Thanks, I say, and go outside with my coffee to look.

And sure enough, there are still strands of yellow security tape still around some poles. And as I look at the steps, I realize that explains why there is so much snow on the steps. In clumps and piles. It fell there when the scaffolding collapsed. And as I look up, there is still lots of snow on the scaffolding.

I go back inside, somewhat shaken. Both because of what happened and more that I knew nothing about it. Until my Greengrass friend filled me in. Priska comes down, done with her work for the day. I tell her about the scaffolding. She looks at me incredulous. 
I was working inside, I never knew…she said. 
Me either, I say.

Finally Sean has returned. His battery is charged enough that he can back in his electric cart and motor off.

Time for me to go.

Later, at home,  I get a phone call from RL. The lights under the scaffolding are out. He’s tried  all the breakers. Nothing works. I tell him about the scaffolding collapse and the emergency repairs. Ah that explains it, he says. Someone unhooked something and didn’t hook it back up. We have to get on that first thing in the morning.

I know. You get Department of Buildings fines for unlit areas under scaffolding. I know. I’ve been to court around that. It’s what they calla per se violation. No grace allowed. The fine is automatic. We have to get right on that….

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