Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Paving Slab Earthquake

Working with and supervised by a more knowledgeable gent, I find myself modifying a stretch of paving.  We are replacing old metal drain covers with more decorative ones.  It’s challenging labour for me, since I am not a physically strong person, but somehow the work seems to be getting done.

Temporarily alone, I notice that one of the drain covers I’m trying to lay is not a good fit, and I start shifting and re-arranging the paving slabs around it so that I can improve on this.  People are passing me by on the street while I work, and after moving slabs for a while I look up and notice that the people I am seeing are distressed.  It turns out that – unnoticed by me – there has been a small earthquake.  Apparently, the cause of this earthquake is me, moving paving slabs.  Beyond the part where I have been working, the scene looks disastrous.  Parts of the paving have collapsed completely into huge, open potholes, others totter precariously.  People are trying to keep their balance, and/or jumping and running towards more secure surfaces elsewhere.

I turn from this scene to look down at the place where I have been working.  I notice that, as in an archaeological dig, I have exposed older layers of paving from decades ago – some with thick glass slabs inserted amongst the stones, others with just tarmac.  I find this interesting, but mainly I’m feeling guilty on account of being the cause of the recent earthquake.

But at this point my supervisor and fellow worker returns.  He tells me not to worry, it’s not my fault, it’s the Council’s.  All I’ve done is to expose an underlying fault in the way the upper layer of slabs was laid, and it will be the Council’s responsibility to come and fix it.  I’m not so sure he’s right.  I feel I ought to do something about it, but I’ve no idea what and all of a sudden the idea of moving paving slabs at all seems impossibly difficult.  So I accept what he says, and we leave.

A little further on we see a group of people milling around parked cars on the roadside.  Unsure what they might be doing, I ask my worldly-wise companion.  He tells me they are checking to ensure that none of the cars are parked too closely together.

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