Sunday, February 17, 2013

Take Off Your Pants and Slide on That Rockford Ice

I stand poised to beat another Northern Illinois winter. Even though they're not what they used to be, neither am I. I feel winter more acutely these days. One of the worst aspects of winter here is the uncertainty of a footfall. Where I live Downtown there are many abandoned buildings, and many storefronts where the owners simply don't hire someone to shovel when it snows, so the sidewalks freeze over. And this would be fine if it didn't stay below freezing for weeks on end. Or if I didn't have to use those sidewalks to go anywhere.

The worst of it is always in front of The Midway Theater. The roof caved in there last year and no one seems to be in a hurry to fix it, so it's unlikely they'd hire anyone to shovel the space in front of the theater, either. It's a walkway used by hundreds, possibly thousands of pedestrians every day, so one would think it would be in the interest of the city to maybe keep it clean. I've seen three separate occasions these past four years where an ambulance was called to pick up someone who had slipped on that ice.

For me staying upright while walking is one of my very great joys. I don't take it for granted. And this city accomodates my vigilance by challenging me at every turn. In fact, there just aren't very many trustworthy footfalls in the Downtown area during winter. I can understand it's difficult to keep those storefronts clear, and that once they freeze there's not much to be done, but if I went out to the other, more busy side of town Downtowners are always complaining about, I probably would never feel unsafe taking my next step.

It's four years now of this and it wears me down a little. I have sincerely enjoyed living in my apartment and take the bad with the good, but it's difficult to hear shop owners complain people go out of their way to shop elsewhere, then don't take care of the sidewalk in front of their shop. 

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