Saturday, April 08, 2006

You Know Your Number’s Up

Working and living in the city, it’s not unusual to have noteworthy events take place near you. Oftentimes, they merely arouse your interest and perhaps provoke a remark or two. I think there is a general tendency to become inured to tragedy or outrageousness when you hear about it everyday; you tend to view this news item or that as perhaps being somewhat out of the commonplace, and then dismiss it from your mind several minutes later when the discussion dies down. I try sometimes to mentally cast myself in the role of the victim or some other participant in a catastrophe to give the importance of the event the regard it deserves. I succeed often enough when it try that, but custom does have a way of dulling compassion. One might even argue we can’t allow ourselves to feel every calamity we hear about to the fullest — how could we function after all? — as perhaps a physician must, to a degree, harden himself to suffering in order to concentrate more effectively on the task of relieving that suffering.

However emotionally constituted you are, there will occur from time to time an event that annihilates indifference. For me, it often isn’t the totality of the event but the features of it that get me. For instance, when I consider the sheer enormity of 9/11, my mind often goes to the shots of people jumping from impossible heights in a last ditch effort to save themselves from a smoking skyscraper, or the account of a rescue worker who discovered a single human leg, a young female’s, daintily clad in a pink sock and black shoe, and how he used that image to spur him on, dedicating his energies to his conception of that poor, anonymous woman who so recently had a full life ahead of her.

Last Monday a great commotion took place near the office. The sound of sirens (which is by no means unusual) was more multiplied and strident than ordinary as numerous emergency vehicles converged from all parts of the city to a spot some eight or ten blocks away. Four or five helicopters beat the air up above us and there was, as they say, a distinct buzz in the air. Something was going on.

John H. (whom I call the Internet Detective, because he’s the fastest Googler alive) quickly discovered what had happened: scaffolding from a construction project across the street from the Boston Common had detached itself from a building (workers were dismantling it at the time) and came crashing down to the busy street below. Two masonry workers were killed in the accident, and stories later came out about the many passersby and motorists who miraculously escaped death or serious injury by inches. But one poor guy, a young doctor sitting in traffic, was crushed to death in his car.

What are the odds of that? You’re on your way to work, idling in a line of cars waiting for the light to change, listening to the radio and taking a sip of your cup of joe, when suddenly, whammo! a piece of scaffolding falls from the sky and instantly ends your earthly existence. No personal reckoning of your life, no last words to your loved ones, no time consider your prospects for the afterlife. Your candle is snuffed out without the slightest warning. As 80 Hour Man later so eloquently put it: “You know your number’s up when that happens.”

That, my friends, got to me.

18 Comments:

Blogger LL said...

Perhaps he had cheated death before and it was just catching up to him like in those Final Destination movies...

3:37 PM  
Blogger Farrago said...

Go to this page find "Brad Cunard" and click on the link to play the video.

If you think it's heart-wrenching to watch, I met the guy and shot the piece.

7:48 PM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

"Perhaps he had cheated death before and it was just catching up to him like in those Final Destination movies..."

Interesting theory…


Farrago, so far I've only watched half because I'm having problems loading it (I'm up to where the son is speaking), but, to my unsophisicated eye, it appears to be excellent work. It looks like you're very good at what you do. I'll try to watch it again when my internet connection is a little more cooperative.

6:08 AM  
Blogger Farrago said...

"..up to where the son is speaking...?" Make sure you're watching the "Brad Cunard" piece.

Sorry the resolution is so crappy. Not my site.

7:20 AM  
Blogger trinamick said...

One more reason that no matter where you are, no matter what you are doing, you should always be wearing clean underwear. Preferably that which is considered normal for your gender.

4:03 PM  
Blogger boo said...

i think mine goes something like this: i walk out to the middle of a bootiful green field (imagine sound of music e-x-p-a-n-d-e-d but i'm not twirling) then whammo a refrigerator falls out from the skies & crush poor widdle boo. i'm not belittling the situation. i believe when your number is up its up, nowhere to run nor hide. tragic but true.

p/s i too enjoyed {inside man} but like every woman, i wished there was more..

5:57 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

I think about all that I want to do in my life, write a song, a book, put my kids through college, set them up with a good start in life. All that could end in a single event like you describe. Really, this is all so temporary.

4:52 AM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

""..up to where the son is speaking...?" Make sure you're watching the "Brad Cunard" piece."

Crap! I was watching the wrong one! I did see about 3 minutes of your video (which I thought was excellent), but that was all my computer could load. I let the thing sit there for a half hour hoping I'd get to watch the whole thing if I did, but no deal.


"One more reason that no matter where you are, no matter what you are doing, you should always be wearing clean underwear. Preferably that which is considered normal for your gender."

Sounds like an argument for clean, brown underwear.


"i believe when your number is up its up, nowhere to run nor hide. tragic but true."

I think you're absolutely right, Boo.


"All that could end in a single event like you describe. Really, this is all so temporary."

That's why I hope there's an afterlife. Call me greedy, but this ain't enough.

5:56 AM  
Blogger Wordnerd said...

Wow. More chilling than any horror movie, huh?

9:04 AM  
Blogger NYPinTA said...

If you're greedy, then so am I. I just don't like the idea of not being able to think anymore.

9:26 AM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

"Wow. More chilling than any horror movie, huh?"

For his sake, I hope it was really quick. Just a really loud sound from God knows where and then — gone.


"If you're greedy, then so am I. I just don't like the idea of not being able to think anymore."

I know exactly what you mean. I'd like to retain my consciousness somehow.

9:33 AM  
Blogger trinamick said...

Perhaps in a floating head? Like those commentator's on John H's blog?

11:09 AM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

You mean like the Great Amazo? Or the Amazing Greato? Yeah, something like that.

11:17 AM  
Blogger Farrago said...

Sorry about that video, Schprocky. I thought it was just my computer gagging on the clip. It must be the stream, as it conks out on my computer at about 3 minutes, too.

I don't know how that guy could carry on after losing his whole future in a split second.

1:46 PM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

I'd say he's made of sterner stuff than me.

2:01 PM  
Blogger LL said...

"I just don't like the idea of not being able to think anymore."

:spew: I'll just save my comment. You all know what it would be anyway... :P

2:34 PM  
Blogger Kathleen said...

Stories like that just break my heart. People just doing their job, be it dangerous or not, or innocent bystanders. I always think of their families and how they're going to cope. Often w/blue collar workers, that family desperately needed that salary and now what are they going to do. Not that their deaths are any more tragic than the young doctor's.

Sometimes I find the news just too hard to take.

6:25 AM  
Blogger magnetbabe said...

That is truly tragic and awful and I can see why it got to you, hitting so close to home.. or work.
However, you know they didn't suffer. Not to get overly graphic or depressing, but give me an instant painless death anyday over cancer, suffocation, starvation, etc. If you always make sure your loved ones know they are loved, you never have to worry about last words, right?

10:00 AM  

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