Monday, October 14, 2013
If You See Something Missing, Say Something
Less than a month ago, I reported a tree near my home that seemed to be on its last legs. It had all the tell-tale signs: scant leaves, brittle bark, and broken branches. But its most prominent and curious attribute were two small branches full of leaves, rising up straight to the sky.
My apartment building was built in 1941, and as I passed this tree every day, I couldn't help wondering what those two branches signified. Were they towers of life, guarding the tree from its own mortality? Were they symbols of rebirth, sprouting from the earth? Or were they some strange mutation beyond explanation? I'd love to say I found an answer, but as the great Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy would have said: "Damn it, Jim, I'm a writer, not an arborist." (By the way, if there are any arborists reading this, I would love to understand why those branches grow vertically. So please feel free to comment on this post or send me a link).
Still, the reality is that dead trees fall and kill people. So I went online and contacted New York City 311. Within a month, the tree was gone.
That troubled tree reminds me of when I was on the subway this year, only a few feet from a man who had gone commando, his wet pants sitting right beside him. Passengers took turns staring, rolling their eyes, and laughing to themselves. I exited at the next stop and notified an MTA employee. Within a couple of minutes, an announcement was made: the trains had been delayed for police activity and would resume shortly. The delay only lasted a couple of minutes, but the lesson was clear: if you see something missing something -- leaves, pants, whatever -- say something. There are people ready to help.