The word “hero” is tossed around lightly these days, but this week, it’s flying around our newsroom for all the right reasons.
Because I’m a genuine hero.
Now, most days, of course, I’m nothing of the sort, spending my time making calls, checking facts, gathering information — then mangling it, after deadline, into something vaguely resembling prose.
But on Monday night, my duties included staring into the maw of Hell — and not only coming back alive, but coming back with a story.
Monday night in Cobble Hill was cold and quiet — maybe a little too quiet — as I did my job by attending a PTA meeting at PS 29. On the way, I couldn’t help but notice about six young gentlemen hamming it up behind me, throwing snowballs at passing cars, laughing and yelping as their weapons of mini destruction made contact.
Then all hell broke loose with one simple phrase: “Let’s run a train! Let’s run a train!” one of the hooligans yelled.
Now, if I had been in Manhattan, I would have panicked, but this was Cobble Hill — the safest neighborhood in the city. Plus, I was carrying my the journalistic toolbox — you know, the one filled with truth, justice, integrity and caffeine suppositories — so I felt invulnerable.
I felt a hand smack the back of my head as one of the kids — maybe 14 years old — ran by. Only a moment passed before the second kid, this one older, shoved me into the glass façade of Bocca Lupo at Henry and Warren streets. I didn’t have time to react before a third cretin pushed me to the ground.
“Great,” I thought, “I’m going to get robbed. I’ll be in the 76th Precinct police blotter. And, worse, Gersh will make me write it up instead of sending someone else. That guy is a jerk. Oh, wait, let me get back to this robbery.”
But this was no robbery. Once I hit the ground — taking most of the impact on my left hand — the final two jerks stood above me and pelted me with snowballs. The group fled, laughing.
There I sat, defeated, with a bleeding hand and a group of Bocca Lupo customers staring at me from inside the warm, inviting restaurant (try the veal).
Now, I could have called my editor and told him I’d been brutally assaulted — then again, he would’ve asked what hospital I was at, so that never would have worked anyway. And given the spate of attacks related to the snowpocalypse, he never would have let me leave the story.
For example, on Jan. 30, four thugs threw snowballs at a 40-year-old man at Hoyt and Butler streets, and then robbed him. Worse, a couple of “rowdy teens” recently threw chunks of ice at a pregnant woman near Hoyt and Bond streets.
It’s a cruel, cruel borough out there. I was injured on the way to a press event — but I had to keep fighting on. I may have been the victim of a crime, but if I had gone home, the only crime would have been my failure to bring you the news.
I am a hero.