Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Another Example Of American Can Doitnessivity

I arrived home on Friday expecting nothing more taxing than a Pizza and discussing the latest episode of Doctor Who with the Stevieling (A recent but rabid convert to the show).

In retrospect, that was to fate what a red rag is reportedly like to a bull.

I pulled into my driveway in the dark, and caught sight of what looked like some scrap wood dumped all over the grass verge outside the front of Chateau; Stevie, so I went to investigate what new outrage my fellow inhabitants of Long Island had perpetrated on me. In the aftermath of the killing of a huge patch of the same verge while I was in Philadelphia I had high expectations of neighbourly buffoonery and I was not disappointed. What had seemed like bits of firewood scattered all over my property line turned out to be even better.

Someone had crashed into the telephone pole.


The pole in question had been completely severed by a little boy in a large Mercedes Osamamobile only 17 months ago while the family were at I-Con, and so was perhaps in the very best condition to accept another customer: New, but aged. On examining it by flashlight I discovered that the pole had been struck so hard that the opposite side had literally exploded out, forming the "firewood" I had seen. There was a crack right through the pole, and several longitudinal cracks running up it to heights of well over eight feet. the fact that it was still standing was a genuine miracle and a testament to the guy wires sunk into the ground and strung to the pole across the road, and to the phone and TV cables anchoring it to my house (which would make life interesting when the pole did fall of course). Several factors were to be considered in this event:

A) The road was very busy and the pole could easily hit a car and kill one or more people

2) Schoolbusses would be picking up children from just across the street the next Tuesday1

γ) If the pole fell the wrong way it could hit either Mrs Stevie's car or my own

þ) It would also pull out all the wires to the phone and cable TV, and while the power cables now ran to a pole at the back of the house, the last time the pole was knocked over by an idiot who couldn't master the art of driving in a perfectly straight line without crashing the cables wrapped around the electricity meter and pulled it off the fbleeping wall, damaged the roof shingles, pulled the siding off the house and generally pissed me off royally.

Action was called for.

Calling someone over this was complicated by the matter of ownership. Poles can be owned by LIPA (ex LILCO, the power company) and any one of a number of phone utilities. I dunno if cablevision has their own poles (I doubt it) but even so I would have to figure out who owned the pole before I could get them to come out and replace it.The pole had a very obvious "Bell Atlantic" identification tag on it, so I called Verizon, the new owners of all things Bell Atlantic hereabouts.

I got a voice mail system, but finally managed to confuse it into connecting me with a human being, who wanted to know what was wrong with my phone or Verizon account. I explained that nothing was wrong with either, but that the pole was about to come crashing down. The young man felt that it was strange that the police hadn't contacted them. I said I didn't know if they had or had not done so, and that I had no evidence that the police had any knowledge of the affair. I explained that I had left for work with a perfectly safe telephone pole outside my house, then returned to find it beaten up and in an extremely dangerous state. The young man agreed with me and opened a "ticket" on it, giving me a number to refer to the case by. I read it back to him and we parted on good terms.

Although I hadn't been able to inspire enough dread in the hotline guy to elicit an overnight visit, I was expecting to see a Verizon repair crew appear the next day. In the morning I took a walk along the property line and discovered that the turf at the corner was demolished, obviously by wheel-spin of epic proportions. I also discovered about half a front-end's worth of plastic car bits. Fragments of lights, rock deflector plates, and ironically, half of the orange cornerstone reflector that Bell Atlantic had put on the pole the last time in a vain attempt to get people to drive past the pole and not into it. Reconstructing matters I could easily see that a car had hit the pole and spun along the property line, coming to rest with its rear wheels on my grass verge and its wrecked front end (to judge by the gouge marks in the - new last month - tar) in the street, at which point the driver had attempted to quit the scene, probably sans at least one working front wheel.

When Verizon hadn't put in an appearance by eleven o'clock I called the hotline again, this time getting a young lady once I had dealt with the voicemail by leaning on my "0" button until it gave in and invoked a human being.

She asked for the ticket number, and I gave it to her. She said there was a digit missing. I told her I couldn't help that. She explained patiently that the ticket couldn't be processed without the full number. I told her she had what I was given. She explained that in that case we were in a quandary. I asked if we could open a new ticket and she thought we could.

I explained the problem, once again covered the essential facts as I knew them and she said she'd have a crew out as soon as possible. I explained about the cars and the schoolchildren. I explained about the pole being cracked right through. I explained about the cracks running vertically. I opined that it was a foregone conclusion that the pole would fall, and that the only variable was how many would be involved in the lawsuit and whether there would be fatalities. She explained that the crews were swamped with emergencies that weekend. I asked her to reflect on how many of those emergencies involved a cracked pole about to fall into a kid-infested street. I got the standard "if it were my call then..." speech and decided I was already on a losing bet. I bade her farewell and asked her to expedite matters to the best of her ability.

I don't mind admitting I was getting quite annoyed and not a little panicky over the outcome of this accident everyone but yours truly was attempting to eventuate outside my house.

I waited five minutes or so after hanging up in an agony of uncertainty and first class dithering, then called 911.

I explained to the dispatcher that I had no immediate emergency, but that I needed to file a police report.about an accident I hadn't seen. She said an officer would be round as and when they had one available. I said "thanks" and went out to mow the lawns.

I was almost finished when a young policeman called me away from the mower. I wasn't expecting such a fast response, but was pleased that at least someone had their ducks in a row. I explained that I needed to file a report, but the officer interrupted me to tell me he knew "all about" what had happened. It transpired he had attended the scene of the accident and had filed a report on it. He also said he was surprised no-one had come out to deal with the pole as he had called it in to LIPA2.

I was struck speechless for a second. A report had been filed and no-one had thought to leave a note to that effect at my house?

The officer explained that it had been a new driver, a young girl, out on her first drive. She had apparently "looked down" "for a second" while she got something from the glove box and the accident had "happened". He smiled wistfully as he related the tale, no doubt reliving his calming effect on the hysterical driver and masterly control of the situation. I asked for the report number.

"Why do you need it?" he asked back.

"I have some small amount of property damage" I answered.


I showed him the corner of the property. "Oh, the turf" he dismissed, and I refrained from pointing out that replacing it would cost about forty bux and require me to install a special sprinkler to keep it damp until it "took".

I also refrained from commenting that the driver had obviously been traveling at considerably more than the posted 30 miles per hour speed limit when she had her "accident".

The officer remarked that the pole looked in very good condition3 and I told him it was new, and related the Mercedes fiasco. He opined that I should remove the pole altogether and have the wires re-routed. I just nodded, wanting this man out of my space in the shortest time. I absolutely did not ask him where he thought little miss rocketkid would have ended up if she hadn't had that pole to slow her down on her mission to kill anyone stupid enough to be in the frontal destruction arc of her vehicle. The officer laughed at my Job Tree and said I should get rid of it too, while I was at it. I pointed out to him that if it hadn't been for that tree, Mercedeslad, Driver of the Fastest Ballistic Osamamobile on Earth would have killed the two children standing on the corner when he had to decide between the giving his full attention to either the road or the LCD computer display in his center console, and had picked the wrong one for the speed he was traveling4.

The officer had served to re-instill in me a hatred for any and all people around me, and so I no longer fretted about the pole coming down, which was good because I didn't see a sign of a Verizon crew that day (Saturday, if you've lost track).

Or the next one.

Or indeed the one after that.

I formulated a plan as I dropped the Stevieling off at school5: I would wait one more day than call Channel 12, the local 24 hour news and scandal program. Maybe that would light a fire under the useless bastards.

About 15 minutes ago I got a call from Mrs Stevie6 to say that two nice Verizon men had knocked at the door.

They were there to "fix our telephone".

  1. Monday being Columbus Day, when to celebrate the explorer claiming to have found America while being paid to find a route to the spice-producingEast Indies we all take a day off work and buy sale-priced mattresses
  2. Having not apparently seen the large, bright orange owner's plate proclaiming the owner for all to see
  3. If you ignored the small matter of its entire inner structure having been completely compromised and its remaining useful life as a support for the various non-power lines running from Chateau; Stevie being measurable only by the sorts of instrumentation normally pressed into service to detect atoms that come after Californium on the periodic table
  4. About eighty miles per hour more than the recommended one of zero
  5. Mrs Stevie usually does this but she was malingering today with some sort of cough. It is a pale imitation of the one that reduced me to a shambling wreck last month and has dragged on for over three weeks of interminable agony, but the woman has to be a martyr and so I volunteered to step up to the plate kid transportation wise, though she never thanked me for doing so. No doubt coffee withdrawal is ravaging her too. With any luck she'll be too weak to lift any cookware for some time to come, thus issuing in a New Era of Liberty, Stevie Leisurewise
  6. Still malingering

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