You are a Providence DPW worker. You stand, shoulders slumped, mouth agape, on a busy sidewalk. Directly in front of you, a foot from the curb, is a traffic sign. This sign has made some grave transgression against the City, and it is your job to remove the iconoclastic guidepost completely, shaft and all, before it can cause further chaos. Somewhere in desolate, wind-scoured badlands of your mind, a lone synapse indolently fires once or twice before slouching over and calling it a day. “This sign doesn’t really look like an agent of mayhem,” it says. “It seems unnecessary to remove it wholesale. We could just remove the sign and leave the post, or replace it with a different sign.” But, meh, your brain just works here. We gotta get this sign out of the ground and then make sure rainwater is flooding the streets before we go to the bah.
You are faced with two choices.
- You can break into the concrete around the post and remove the entire assembly. This will leave a small crater in the sidewalk, approximately the same size as every other crater already in the sidewalk, including the one your right foot is currently in. Patching it is entirely optional. The job will likely require a jackhammer, or maybe just a sledge.
- You can hack the sign off midway through the post, leaving a four-inch razor-sharp nub protruding from the pavement, which will become a bangin’ night club for C. tetani. You can optionally allow tall grass to grow through the cracks around the nub, effectively camouflaging it from people who might be trying to watch where they are placing their sandaled feet. The job will require any sharp tool that might be in the back of your pickup.
Can you intuit, based on the fact that there is an article about it, which option you choose?
Providence actually has an app for reporting woes on the go, called ProvConnex. You can use GPS to report your exact location, and you can totally upload some sick hazard snapz. You have to choose a specific category under which to file these reports, but they have conveniently left “tetanus” out of the listing. Luckily the picture says it all. The DPW web team will review my complaint and wonder, is that rusty piece of metal always covered in blood? Not always. Only when it matters.
Do you remember the date and location of your last tetanus shot? If you’re like me, computerized records don’t stretch back that far. Computers don’t really stretch back that far. I was feeling particularly slothful after I was bandaged up, so I decided to ask Dr. Interwebs if medical treatment was truly necessary. Tetanus sounds like Tetris, which brings a deluge of fond memories of ten-pound monochrome Game Boys and that Russian squat-dance. I ignored all of the Google links to the NIH and CDC websites and went straight for WikPed. Fun fact: the first symptom of the disease is “lockjaw.” I read that word and didn’t even finish the rest of the sentence, just stood up and made a beeline for the doctor. I refuse to contract pirate diseases.
I suppose I should be thankful that the injury wasn’t massive, and that I could limp into Health Services for prophylaxis, and now that I have I can wrap myself luxuriously in discarded barbed wire for another 7-10 years. I am not thankful. They stabbed me in the foot with rusty negligence.