Tunnel Worms and Sewer Rats

Posted on August 11, 2011


    Honestly I could not make this up.  The city filled the sinkhole in the Cruz family driveway about a week ago.  They layered on some thick blacktop and drove away, after making the circular hole square with a jackhammer. 

Yesterday, while Bernadette and Jose Cruz were picking up their  lovely new 2-12 red mini-van, the hole reopened–with a vengence.   All the thick layer of blacktop the city laid on the hole is now at the bottom of it.  Score one for what we are now referring to as the Tunnel Worms.  Worse yet, the Cruz’s current older minivan was parked by their back door, and it was stuck in the driveway with no way to back it out to the street.

        The voice of the turtles was heard in the land.  I imagine Jose, who is usually very soft spoken and non-confrontational, had a thing or two to say  about what the city could look forward to if his NEW vehicle was damaged by the ever-spreading sinkhole.   I know I definately had a few things to say, and some neighbor’s obligingly took some pictures of the surreal scene.  So did Jose.

         Fast forward 12 hours.   I was on the phone with Alderman Hayes Clement ( who is giving up on the Ninth Ward in an effort to be elected Mayor.)when I heard  some mechanical noises, motors and thumping outside.   I looked out and there was a large (size of a garage) box in the middle of Levan Street. along with a backhoe (or was it a front end loader, I always confuse those) several dump trucks, and a white pick up parked in front of my house.  Oh good, action at last.

      Ooops, not so fast.   Every time the backhoe raised a shovel full of what had once been Levan street, the top of the shovel hit my telephone line.   Just in case anyone lost track, my phone service was just restored last Tuesday after a tree at 27 Levan fell on the phone wires and weren’t removed for almost 24 hours.  If the backhoe dislodged the wire, Verizon is on strike, and I would have been without phone service for the foreseeable future, after I had just mailed out 30 resumes with my phone number on them.  (The two-week outage earlier in the month cost me a $60 job when they were unable to reach me to work fill-in.)

       The bobblehead who was apparently running things told me that there was no other place that the backhoe could go where it would not hit the wire.  He then refused three times to give me his name.  He was a florid white man, husky in build (and I’m being kind) with a very short grizzled beard and mustache wearing either glasses or safety lenses.  He was in a white pick up with the city seal on the door and “Sewer Maintenance” on the back, and the license plate M47262.   I am awaiting identification  of him from a former employee of the BPW who will probably remember him.  All he would say is that they were installing a terminal box.   I tried to get the license number of the backhoe, but it didn’t seem to have one.  The only thing the gentleman would say was to tell me over and over, like an automoton ,to get back on the sidewalk.   Apparently it never occurred to him that the sidewalk had been swallowed into the sinkhole and was cordoned off with green rope and road cones, as you can see in the picture.

     This picture is somewhat dark, since it was taken with a cell phone at night, but you can see the square sinkhole between the reflective road cones, and it you look in the back, between and slightly above the reflective cones, you can see the license plate and rear lights of the van entombed in the driveway.

      Fortunately my antique digicam had just enough juice left in the dead batteries to get one picture of the  back hoe actually lifting my phone wire (not “brushing” it,) and I was able to borrow a cell phone and get a picture of  the gentleman who I shall have to refer to as Mr. Dumbast, since I have not yet been able to get his name.

        The voice of a 300 pound snapping turtle was heard in the land as I fried the phones at city hall and the BPW.   Fortunately or unfortunately, I have a life, and my TDI Therapy Dog was scheduled to visit two nursing homes this morning.  We made it, only 15 minutes late, and on the way home I had a lovely chat with the Verizon workers who were on strike.   They verified my belief that it is against the law to interfere with exterior telephone wiring.   (I got the preteen vandals with once when they kept hitting it with a football, same wire.   I think it might hang a little too low.)

         The Kingston Police Deaprtment told me to call the BPW.   Superintendent Schupp told me to to call the police, in a message through his secretary.  Meanwhile, the Sewer Rats had broken for lunch which was a good thing, food in jail is not very good, I’m told.  Meanwhile they had been joined by yet another white pick up with “Foreman” printed on it and the license number L91853.

          I had some paperwork to do in the office upstairs so I turned the security cameras on the sewer rats and waited for them to finish lunch.   And you know, the oddest thing happened.  When they had finished stuffing their faces at the taxpayer expense–THEY TURNED THE BACKHOE AROUND–exactly what I had suggested three stress-filled hours before when they told me it couldn’t be done.

       Of course, then they were knocking into the line for James and Stewart’s house, but James and Stewart won’t be home until this weekend.   If my phone or theirs goes out this weekend, the jail will have five fat guys in green vests to feed until they make bail–I’m on my way to check out the city budget so I can post how much I am paying them to knock out my phone service, and I will post it with their pictures.   If anyone recognizes them, I’d love to get their names, it will save me having to file a FOIL for the payroll records for the sewer department this morning.

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