It did happen, so it stands to reason, it did not happen.
If my title line and the first paragraph of today’s column has you confused, please read further to achieve a relaxing sense of clarity.
I have been sharing my particular style for arranging the 26 letters of our alphabet on the printed page to produce columns for the readers of The Suburban Times since November of 2010.
All these years and today is the first time I have ever written a column without a title. Of course, some might argue that Westside Story – No Story – No Title is a title.
Here is the deal. In the City of Lakewood near the intersection of Gravelly Lake Drive SW and School Street SW in front of Clover Park High School there was a dangerous sidewalk condition where a safety device had deteriorated so severely the device, designed for pedestrian safety, ironically made the sidewalk extremely hazardous.
Based on this dangerous condition, had the City of Lakewood not taken quick action, there might have been a story reporting a tragedy in my Westside Story column. The story could have been so big it might have been picked up by CNN and Fox News along with big-time print newspapers, like The New York Times. Radio shows like Rush Limbaugh could have blasted the Lakewood story over the airwaves.
Had the story actually taken place it could have been something like what follows.
Today, we are sad to report that in Lakewood, Washington, a 99-year-old woman innocently walking down the sidewalk on Gravelly Lake Drive SW in front of Clover Park High School, tripped over a defective safety device commonly known by uninformed citizens as the yellow rubber bumpy stuff.
Pushing the pause button on this story for a moment, I wish to report that I did not want to remain an uninformed citizen, so I called Larry King, who is a retired construction expert. Larry informed me the yellow rubber bumpy stuff is technically called a truncated dome panel. By law, the truncated dome panels must be installed in sidewalk systems with a 12 to 1 slope to comply with the American Disabilities Act. The purpose is to allow a blind person with a cane to locate crosswalks.
Back to my story. When the 99-year-old woman stubbed her toe on the uplifted edge of the truncated dome panel which was 2 1/2” higher than the sidewalk, her custom, hand-carved, solid oak cane was torn from her hand as she rolled off the sidewalk into the path of a fully loaded school bus. It was a massive tragedy as all the children on the bus were traumatized by the longtime social security recipient’s screams for help.
To make matters worse, the senior citizen’s toe-stubbing stumble caused three Clover Park High School students to fall into the pathway of the same school bus thereby wiping out a good portion of the CPHS cheerleading squad.
This horrendous tragedy was caused because an innocent senior citizen exercising within three days of her 100th birthday, stumbled over what is supposed to be a “safety device.”
As sad as this may seem, there is more bad news. Big bucks sized lawsuits directed towards The City of Lakewood by the victim’s families, neighbors, and the grocery delivery boy followed swiftly before we would hear that familiar cry often spouted by officials at news conferences everywhere following most predictable tragedies; namely, “We have to take action, so this kind of accident never happens again.”
So why have I told you “No story, no title”? There is no title because there is no story. Our City of Lakewood is not like most cities. Lakewood responded to my hazard complaint so quickly there was no time for any newsworthy tragedy to occur.
THANK YOU TO THE CITY OF LAKEWOOD FOR YOUR EXCELLENT AND TIMELY LIFE-SAVING PERFORMANCE.
(NOTE: I wrote the above sentence in bolded all caps on purpose because I really wanted to shout out my thanks to our city, city staff, city maintenance crew, city manager, and city council for organizing and managing our city to be so highly responsive. As former Mayor Bill Harrison use to say, “Today is a great day to be a citizen of the City of Lakewood.”)
The reason I know so much about this story or I should say “non-story” is because I spotted the “accident waiting to happen” and reported it immediately to The City of Lakewood using their nifty MyLakewood311 program which is a free app on my smartphone.
The city responded to my complaint in such a rapid and impressive manner thereby immediately causing the possibility of citizen injury, death, and giant lawsuits to disappear with the hazard itself.
The Lakewood crew set up bright colored traffic cones which were an excellent and expeditious strategy for temporarily preventing anyone from being injured or killed.
This quick action eliminated the risk of toe stubbing, ankle breaking, wrist fracturing, traumatic brain injury, and the worse risk of all which would be causing a pedestrian to fall into the traffic on Gravelly Lake Drive. Oh, I forgot, nose breaking.
The next thing Lakewood did was to underpromise and over deliver in the form of returning to the kill zone earlier than promised and once finished with their work, the sidewalk repair converted the public area from a danger zone to a safe zone.
My 20+ years of responding to scenes similar to the fictionalized story above allows me to clearly understand how wonderful the city’s response to my simple request turned out to be. So many calls as a first responder left me with the indelible impression, “This tragedy is ridiculous and did not have to happen, if only…