Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas 2009: You've Come a Long Way Baby

X-mas 1964

X-mas 2009
I spent Christmas in the city, staying with a friend in her townhouse on Washington Street, which is a very old thoroughfare in downtown Manhattan, running up from the Battery to the World Trade Center site, whence in disappears within modern development, only to reappear in Tribeca, where it continues to run about 40 blocks up to 14th Street.

On the afternoon of Christmas Eve, I foolishly opened the front door from the inside without checking and set off an alarm. By the time it could be shut off, ADT had called the New York City Fire Department, and within 10 minutes an engine company and a huge ladder truck showed up at the door. The firemen were dressed in their full turnout coats, with Scotts packs on their backs.

I found it odd that an alarm company would summon the fire department for a burglar alarm being set off. While the responders couldn't have been nicer or more polite, the essential difference between firemen and police, I should think, is that firemen don't need a warrant to enter a private residence.

In any event, it seemed like a big waste of energy---both of the human and carbon variety. I saw other such fire department over-responses happening everywhere I went in the city during this trip. Luckily, I didn't note what was visible on other recent trips into the city---and that was the large American flags unfurled from the backs of speeding fire department equipment, flapping furiously in the breeze, and not looking especially fire-retardant in the process.

Or maybe I've just become sedentary in my old age, and am easily overstimulated. Whatever the changes afoot in fire department processes and procedures---if any---the members are surely earning their salaries now.

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