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That Darned Hole

When I went home last night, I worried how I was going to wrestle that darned manhole cover back over the open hole. I dreamed of passing motorists gaily waving as they drove by. The thought crossed my mind that I would have to be careful not to turn my worst side to the street.
Ivan worried about liability. What if we put it back wrong and someone fell on it? What if one of us wrenched our back, knee, ankle or neck straining to move the cover? 
This morning, fearing the worst, I sent brave husband out to look. What to his wondering eyes did appear, a manhole cover with three jaunty red cones.
We don’t know who fixed the cover. Had to be someone from the government (nobody I know keeps those cool red cones lying around).
Whoever you are, Thank You. My battered faith in public service is restored. Unsung heroes of manhole covers don’t come along every day. I am thrilled they came along today.

Walking back from the courthouse this morning around ten, I noticed the cover was off the manhole that sits right in the middle of the sidewalk almost under our one- and- only- traffic light. A few weeks (months?) ago, someone tripped on this very same manhole and was hurt.

On this sunny, cold morning, no work people were in evidence. There were no caution cones (as there had been for several past weeks) to mark the spot.

An accident waiting for a person to happen.
When I got back to my office, two doors down, I called Clinton City Hall to report the problem, serenely confident that someone would be around immediately to fix the darn hole. I spoke with the City Clerk.

After I explained where the open hole was, she said, “Oh, that’s not the City’s problem. We don’t do that. That’s the state barn’s problem.” (Kentucky State Transportation barn?)
She gave me the phone number which is pretty impossible to find in the phone book. Then I called what I guess was the state Transportation barn, serenely confident that the efficient men who work in our county transportation crew would come out soon and fix the hole.

The very nice man on the phone didn’t think a manhole on the sidewalk was in their jurisdiction. He mused that the guys doing the sewer survey work may have left it open. He did say he would talk to someone to see if they could come and fix it.

After lunch, I walked down and took the picture. The leaves make the hole look shallow - it isn't.
At this writing, the sun is going down and over five hours have passed. The hole is still open and before you say “fix it yourself, stupid”, the cover is cast iron and too heavy for me to move. Even if I could move, I am fairly sure that I wouldn’t fit it back on properly – making one dangerous spot into another dangerous spot.
As I warned the barn man, if someone falls in the hole and gets hurt, my law office is only a short crawl away. He said he didn’t take me for an “ambulance chaser”.  And 99.9% of the time, I am not. But this is one ambulance, I will put my running shoes on for.  
That darn hole made me mad. Sure, it's small on the scale of global warming, the stock market meltdown, wars on two fronts and the collapse of the American economic system. But it is a symptom of the malaise we all seem to be infected with (me included): Not my department. Not my job. Can’t be fixed. I didn’t do it. Call somebody else. I am not responsible.
There are too many darn holes in our city, our county, our state and our nation. They are everybody’s problem and nobody’s responsibility.
If the darn hole is still open in the morning, I am gathering up some volunteers and we are going to move the lid together and fix it.
Stay tuned.

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