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Section Gee! | ART BUCHWALD

Falling Down in Hunt for Footing in Big City

November 03, 1998|ART BUCHWALD

Since I moved to New York City I have noticed an interesting phenomenon. People are falling down in the streets. I had fallen down several times, so I didn't find it strange.

I asked a friend what was going on, and he said, "The potholes on the sidewalks are getting larger, and most pedestrians are not paying attention.

"You see that chap over there who just fell down? He is typical of a New York City resident. No one is going to pick him up because it might involve a lawsuit."

"He seems to be climbing out of the hole by himself."

"New Yorkers are getting more talented at climbing out of their holes. It goes with the territory. The cement and bricks are raised two or three inches, just enough for the toe of the shoe to hit the elevated surface. When a person least suspects it, he trips and falls down. In the past we helped the person up, but now, with Medicare, it's really none of our business."

I asked, "Is there any way a person can avoid tripping over a pothole on the streets of New York?"

My friend said, "Not much. The big potholes are located in the streets, and if you're riding in a taxi you can really hit a boomer.

"At the same time, potholes on the sidewalks sneak up on you. The trick is to take one step at a time, placing the sole of your shoe squarely in front of you. This will not guarantee you won't fall down, but after a while you get to practice tripping and you can save yourself serious injuries. The most important thing when tripping in a pothole is to throw your arms out, protecting your face and chin."

My guide told me some neighborhoods are more hazardous than others. "But the most important thing is, if you're going to fall on the sidewalks of New York, fall into another pedestrian, let him take the blow and share the lawsuit with him."

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