Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Stairway to Heaven, Sidewalk to Nowhere

Shel Silverstein wrote a poem called "Where the Sidewalk Ends."  Had he visited my suburban Northeastern town (whose identity I can't reveal due to my personal retinue of stalkers who want to do me harm or, at a minimum, tickle me) he would have noticed that there are an increasing number of sidewalks to nowhere.

My immediate neighborhood is sidewalk-less, and I understand that this is considered "upscale."  (Which is pretty funny, because considering someone like me "upscale" means that the word "upscale" is most definitely going "downscale").  However, whenever anyone builds a new house or renovates an existing one, the owner is required to install a sidewalk.  And that owner is required to pay for a permit to gain permission to build the sidewalk that one is required to build whether one wants to or not.

Why wouldn't one want to build a sidewalk (and why am I using the royal "one" so many times in this blog post)?  In my opinion, there is a definite downside to "owning" a sidewalk.  Namely, the owner is bound to keep it clear of snow and ice.  And given the winter that we've just endured, that means many many hours of back-breaking work.  With no assurance that someone isn't going to slip and fall anyway on your cracked, winter-ravaged sidewalk and sue you for whatever little you've got left post renovation.

Since there's no particular pattern to the renovations, it is not unusual to pass a entire row of (upscale) houses without sidewalks and then, just when you thought you were home free, come upon a sidewalk.  From the air, I imagine it looks like the remaining tooth in an otherwise toothless smile.

I was taking a walk the other day in my sidewalk-less neighborhood when I came upon a single sidewalk.  It stretched the length of one modern home and was very white and shiny.  I stepped up onto the sidewalk (because what else was I supposed to do?), took 10 steps and found myself at the other end, at the limit of the property line.  I started to step down....and fell into the abyss.

My luck, I fell onto the sidewalk-less part of the street.  Who am I to sue (or more accurately, whom am I to sue)?  Maybe Shel Silverstein.

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