Thursday, May 04, 2006

Looking For Someone To Blame

When a child dies, it's human nature to look for someone to blame. The sorrow is simply so great that you look for something else to feel, and rage is quite convenient. We've all been there.

But sometimes, there's simply not a good place to direct the rage.

Monday night, a tragedy took place in my building. There seems to be an effort by the media to find a way to pin this on building management. It's just not there.

The little boy leaned against an elevator door on the ninth floor. A flimsy looking part galled a gib is all that keeps an elevator door from being pressed in when someone leans against it. Think about a razor blade, the kind that you never see in real life, but the kind that people in movies invariably find when they want to commit suicide. It looks like that, but with perforations. This tiny part gave way, and the child fell to his death.

It's simply horrible beyond imagination. I've seen the little boy and his family around the building, but I can't say I really knew them. But I'll never forget the sound of his mother crying in the hallway of the ninth floor. And after I ran down nine flights of stairs, I saw the sight that I'll never get out of my head--- Her little boy being carried out of the basement.

I realize that of the millions of political blogs out there, the family stumbling across mine is a longshot. I'm not even using his name so it won't come up on a search engine. My heart breaks for this family, and I don't want to do anything to prolong the agony that I know they're going through right now.

But the staff of this building is not to blame.

I've never lived in a place as conscious of maintenance as the staff at this building. I had a stove go bad on Friday afternoon, and they ordered a new one and installed it on Monday. If I do so much as flag down a staffer here in the hallway and tell them I'm having a problem, they're on it immediately.

They're aggressively proactive in their maintenance. When they took over the building, it was in disrepair; Floor by floor, they've been renovating every aspect of the building.

And yes, there have been problems with the elevators before. It seems that every resident of this building that wants to be on TV has jumped in front of a camera to talk about elevator problems that have absolutely nothing to do with the tragedy Monday night. A car getting stuck between floors (And fixed the next day) in January has nothing at all to do with a gib coming loose in May. Imagine that the alternator in your car goes out in January, and your brakes fail in May, causing a fatal accident. Are the two related? Not in any way.

You can't really tell that from the news coverage. They're compounding this tragedy. People are going to move out after this--- It's inevitable. I don't think the accident is the fault of the staff, but I can't be the only person having a tough time looking at the elevator shaft these days.

With the sensationalistic coverage of the maintenance of this building over the last few days, those vacancies are going to be tough to fill. It's now portrayed as a building where no one maintains the elevators. That's an insult to the staff here.

When that baby was carried around the corner into the lobby, a member of the maintenance staff was helping the grandfather (An action hero, if you ask me--- That man climbed down the elevator cables to the basement level from the ninth floor) carry him. That image will be frozen in my mind forever, much like the firefighter carrying the baby away from the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. When people were panicking all around him, he ran down the stairs (Ten flights, no less--- He lives almost next door to me), shut down the elevators, and helped carry that poor baby out of the shaft.

Mourn this child. Pray for his family, so that they may find the peace they so richly deserve.

But there is an irresponsible rush to judgment taking place right now. Sometimes, an accident is just an accident.

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