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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Unfriendly Sidewalks

By Silvia Uribe

Last week I was in pain, and perturbed by the clickety-clack sound coming from my knees after falling hard on them. It was one of those, not only painful, but embarrassing moments. The kind we inevitably go through when tripping or twisting an ankle, and after making all sorts of unnatural, ungracious, and in the end, unsuccessful maneuvers in an effort to avoid the fall.

This time, the culprit was one of the many poorly maintained sidewalks of our city. I tripped, and like a dart, my body propelled itself a few feet ahead.

I landed next to a long line of cars waiting for a green light. As they slowly moved forward, several drivers stopped briefly and, through their windows, nicely asked if I was ok. (So much for my wish to be invisible, but it is very comforting to know that caring people surround us.)

Much to my disbelief, physically, I was ok. Saving face a little, I waved at them, signaling that I had no broken bones, and no acute pain. Then, I started the recovery operation - all the stuff that came out of my purse. It had opened at the time it hit the ground, allowing for my makeup, pens, phone, and other items to be dispersed all over the place. Nice.

My ego was a different story. It was badly bruised after the awkward moment. First, I was lying on the sidewalk; face down, for a few (very long) seconds. It felt weird, to say the least. Then, I sat (still on the ground) trying to clean some of the dirt from my new pants, and at the same time, feel my body discretely and assess for possible damages. Then, I came to the realization that I needed to get up. OMG! (Sorry, I'm getting used to texting.) That moment was the scariest of all.

There was nothing close to me that I could've used as a resting/pulling/supporting device. I knew I had to come up with the necessary strength in my legs and knees, and trust that they would push me up.

"I can do it, I can do it", I kept repeating to myself out loud, but I was secretly hoping for some invisible hands to lift me up. I counted "one, two, three, and…." I regained verticality. I was so proud of my accomplishment, I could have given myself a round of applause, but I refrained, since the whole scene was already odd enough. The show was over…. Finally.

Is it only me, or is our city in a major need for timely curb, and street repairs? During the time that I spend downtown every weekend, I see many people tripping, not because they're clumsy or distracted, but because more and more curbs are uneven, broken, or because the bricks are loose (as the picture shows) making them dangerous; particularly, and interestingly enough, for those who wear either high heels, or flip-flops.

And, what about our streets? The wear and tear of our cars gets incrementally accentuated with so many little, medium and big potholes (like the one at the off ramp of the 101 at Carrillo.) These take forever to be fixed, and when they are, the solution is deficient, and sometimes as bad as the problem itself.

Why wait so long? Or, even worse, why wait until something really bad happens in which the City may be found liable? They say in Spanish, "Mas vale tarde que nunca", which equivalent in English is, "Better late than never." I don't agree with that philosophy. In certain instances, it might just be too late.

As for me, I followed my own advice and took matters (my noisy knees, and my all aching body) into my own hands quickly. I immediately scheduled a visit to the chiropractor and to the masseuse, to fix and pamper myself a little.

Now, I'm ready for another walk.

Silvia Uribe is a freelance writer with a Latino Perspective.
Cross-posted at


Maria said...

Poor my friend!!! I agree with you, sometimes our sidewalks are like death traps and our tax money should be use to make them better.

Anonymous said...

What, the very expensive Santa Barbara has no money to repair their sidewalks? Hmmmm....

I know exactly what you mean. Sometimes the weird movements are worse than the fall itself, and they can leave your body hurting.

Hope you're feeling much better now.

Your columns are very good, I'll keep coming back.

From Rags To Middle Class said...

Hi Sylvia. You were guest on my show, From Rags to Middle Class.

A few months ago, I told a person associated with the city that as I was walking along the street next to Joe’s, where the sidewalk is blocked with people waiting to go into the Cajun Kitchen, I fell hard on my knee. The sidewalk was blocked and as I moved to the driveway next to the Cajun Kitchen, I fell as I stepped on uneven and broken cement on the edge of the driveway.

The city should know that this spot is dangerous and fix it before paving more red brick around SB.

Hope all is well.

Cheryl K.
From Rags to Middle Class