So this sign was posted on the door of my apartment building. Sounds rather dire, doesn't it? "Imminently perilous to life," and all. And the threat of arrest if we should violate teh vacate order, ooh, scary.
I'd be inclined to take the sign more seriously if it weren't for the fact that I was reading it for the first time on my way OUT of my building the day AFTER it had been posted. Thus right away the sign's credibility got thrown into question since the "this premises has been vacated" assertion was a little inaccurate in the truth department. Meaning it wasn't. True, I mean. Down at the bottom you may be able to make out that the 'floor' in peril is actually the back courtyard. In almost ten years of living here I have stuck my head back there exactly once, for about a minute and a half. There's nothing back there. Tommy says he thinks the cause for concern is a tree growing in the foundation back there that is about to tumble. Okay, that seems like a reasonable thing to get worked up about, but didn't they have a sign that was a little less code red on them? You say the premises have been vacated and will remain so under threat of arrest until such time as the department deems it safe, those of us living here are going to be a bit confused, seeing as no one told us to leave. I'm really pretty certain that if any attempt had been made to inform us we needed to vamoose the night before, any knocking on the door, say, bell ringing, shouting in the stairwell, anything like that, Coltrane would have had a lot to say about it. Tuesday night was not a noisy night in Coltrane's world, so I'm reasonably confident I can assert no attempt was made to evacuate this building. When I got home again to find the sign still up, I had a brief chat with a new neighbor about it, wondering if we should be at all alarmed, and assuming that no news was good news. Maybe not the smartest move to take when it comes to big city living, but it's what we're all going with for now. After some high profile fatal accidents (you've probably heard or read about them) the building commission department is facing some heavy criticism for having been lax or irresponsible in the execution of its duties, so I can't help but wonder if they're going the Chicken Little route anytime anything comes up, just to play it safe. That theory would make more sense if they had actually made us leave though. Or maybe they were just out of the 'stay out of the back courtyard' signs. Even so, couldn't they have posted it closer to the courtyard? Putting up a sign saying 'do not enter, violators will be arrested' on the FRONT DOOR of a building is naturally going to lead me to assume I'm not supposed to go THROUGH THE FRONT DOOR. "Do not enter," I find that unequivocal, so it amuses me that it seems to have no bearing on reality. I've been home since five, Tommy and Ellen arrived without mishap, we've all come and gone as need and whim have dictated. So far, no repercussions.
I was pleasantly surprised that our mail got delivered today. If there was one person who I expected to honor this sign, it was another government employee. Maybe she knew better than I how to interprete the subtleties. The mail was still a disappointment, but that's hardly her fault. I really should be writing more letters. Email has spoiled me.
So yesterday afternoon an additional document, looking even more official (it had an embossed medallion, so you know it's good), was explicit in saying only the back courtyard had been evacuated, and (Tommy was right) the culprit was a tree eating away at the foundation. I'm not sure what they mean by 'evacuated' since the only creatures living back there that I know of are rats the size of chihuahuas, and feral cats who like to improve the summer nights with their pornographic yowling. If these folks have been moved along, I'd be delighted if they were never allowed to return, but I ain't holding my breath. Ah well. So I am safe in my home. Still not sure why they had to post the notices on the front door. It would have been so easy to put them up, along with police tape, across the narrow entrance to the courtyard itself. I seriously doubt Brian (read the comments) is the only long-time resident of the place who was previously unaware of the courtyard's existence. Better safe than sorry, I suppose, but this is another example of how official warnings get over-looked here. I think many of us, with some justification, start to see things like this as boys crying wolf. There was one day when in the space of three hours I heard three different warning alarms ringing (two in buildings, one in the subway), an no one, including me, took any notice of them. Somehow we all just assumed (rightly, fortunately) they were false alarms. And don't get me started on car alarms. Do they serve ANY purpose these days other than annoying the neighborhood? Maybe they're more useful in non-urban areas.