Carmine’s losing battle with our streets and sidewalks

Last week’s column I once again expounded on hazardous streets and sidewalks of Bensonworst, which made my handicap scooter flip — landing me smack dab in a filthy puddle of water.

Some people just walked by after it happened, but a couple of young guys who spoke Spanish helped me up.

These guys were strong, too. They lifted my 300-pound hulk of a frame back onto my scooter, grabbed my shopping bag, and sent on my way. I rode a mile from there to my home, dirty, drenched and totally embarrassed. But I was humbled by the kindness of those young men — and especially leery of the treacherous terrain ahead of me.

About halfway there, I called my wife to prepare her for what she was about to see. She needed to know that she was going to have to help undress me in our foyer so I could take a shower and get ready for the dance class I teach at Seth Low Intermediate School off Avenue P.

Look, you guys all know that I have Access-A-Ride on my speed dial, but that day, for whatever reason I had forgotten to book my trip.

And of course, it couldn’t have been a sunny day. By the time I had to head out on my scooter, it was rainy, snowy, and freezing all at once.

But I wasn’t going to let that stop me! I mean, would Zorro not go out and save that damsel in distress because of some precipitation? Hell no! And it wouldn’t stop me from teaching those that want to learn how to mambo how to mambo from the seat of my ride.

So I did what Mr. Vega would do, and bundled myself up in my red scarf, gloves, vest, and shirt underneath my hooded jacket. When I left my humble abode, it was still light out. But by he time I got there, it was dark. Now I don’t have to tell you this, but I will anyway: this past winter was one of the worst we ever had. I was freezing, while I scooted there, and I vowed never, with God as my witness, to never, ever again forget to book my Access-A-Ride trip.

The dance class, of course, was excellent, but the ride home, was not.

I chose to use the streets with the least traffic, and, of course, those were the ones with the worst sidewalks. You know, trees uproot the pavement causing hills and dales. I felt like I was riding a wagon train across the prairie!

And you know something? You are actually safer on the streets facing the one-way traffic. That’s because most car accidents happen within a few blocks from home (That’s true! I read it on the InterWeb.)

But I digress. Because it was very, very cold, I wanted to get home as fast as possible and chose to go underneath the Stillwell Avenue el, which is the shortest distance. BIG MISTAKE, BIG, BIG MISTAKE! Let’s put it this way, Access-A-Ride takes that route and I hear all the drivers saying their prayers. Still, the route wasn’t as bad as the freezing cold that was penetrated my fingers in my gloves.

Being very careful, choosing streets that looked reasonably passable, (which, of course, is hard to come by), I got to within three blocks of my apartment building, when I thought it better to get on the sidewalk because the streets were terrible.

Looking for a curb cut to get onto the sidewalk, I avoided a huge puddle that resembled Lake Erie — I couldn’t even see the other side! While trying to maneuver up the curb cut, the slant dumped me right in the middle of the lake, which was much deeper than that puddle on 86th Street. Not only that, it was dirtier, too — and colder! Plus, it was dark and scary!

And you know something else? There aren’t too many people walking around at 9:40 pm, so I wasn’t sure my new Spanish friends would be back to save me!

Next week, the Saga of Our Dangerous Streets continues!

Screech at you then!

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