Our Bravest

In my town, I am a very vocal supporter of my local fire department, both the city and the volunteers out in the county (whose extreme heroism has saved countless lives, including when our refinery exploded from a propane leak, and our cat cracker was at risk).  I love our fire men, and I buy them  their meals anytime I dine in the same restaurant as any of them.

Having given this caveat, I would like to relay a story:

Our town is typical small West Texas, with poor ADA accomodations due to basic economic depression.  We have a multi story retirement community up the street, 1 block over from a major highway.  You don’t have to cross this highway to get to a grocery store, but you do have to cross to get to other places, like a water store or a relatives house.  Most in the retirement community have either motorized wheelchairs, or scooters.

One day, an elderly couple were hit crossing a street and killed.  Fairly well known just because they were always out and about, doing their thing.  I cry still to think about how senseless it was to live all those years to end like that.

But it got some updates done, using the “Obama money”.  We have lots of nice, new sidewalks, extending several blocks in both directions from the highway (a major street for us, as it is a US highway, not interstate….which is on the other end of town).  The sidewalks make the neighborhoods look nicer, and might encourage fat folks like me to get out and walk….when it isn’t 110 that is.

Today, however, I was driving to work and noticed a lady riding up the side of the road, coming towards me.  At first I didn’t even notice, because the ADA approved sidewalks are just that new.  It was something that I was numb to seeing, despite the tragedy of the situation.  Then, I had to swerve just a little to make sure she could see that I was not going to hit her (i like to provide peace of mind to the elderly, even to a silly degree) and it occured to me:  she was not on the sidewalk.

I then looked up to see why, not wanting to accept my first thought of her just not using the new sidewalk (“if you build it, they will come” holds true).  And I saw it.  The obstruction.  The fire department had pulled their truck out of its bay, and the bumper was sticking about 2 feet into the sidewalk.  She would not be able to go around it, either, due to the terrain immediately around it and the lack of thruway.

Now, this is not a “shame on you” for our Bravest.  Like I said, they are truly a well manaaged, well trained, extremely brave asset to our community and humanity in general.  Just an observation that even our most outstanding people can overlook simple yet important things.

That’s progress, I suppose.

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