My run-in with the electric company and the equipment it left behind
One restaurant patron gave me her untouched glass of water as I “recovered” in a chair at a table with three guys who told me that, in just the half hour they had been there, they had counted five people who had tripped over the shunt. The orange shunt did not glow in the dark; there were no cones or construction horses to alert the pedestrian to proceed with caution. As I sat there, I witnessed yet another person trip.
Aware of the dangerous situation, the restaurant manager said that he had been calling Con Edison every week for months. The shunt, which is supposed to be a temporary repair to deliver electrical service, had been there since the summer.
Riddled with shoulder and neck pain, I called Con Edison the next morning to report that I had been injured because of their shunt. The operator noted that the restaurant had called them the previous evening at 9 p.m. According to my calculation, that call occurred before I fell. I was the “accident waiting to happen.”
Within an hour of my complaint, a Con Edison emergency dispatcher called to say that he had already sent an inspector to the restaurant.
I later returned to the restaurant to find out whether Con Edison had inspected the site. Yes, they had been there, I was told, but had not done anything. When the manager and I stepped outside to look at the shunt, we watched a woman trip over it and fall down on her knee. She barely missed hitting her head on what had been a phone booth. In a rush or embarrassed by her fall, the woman took off without a word. I saw her shaking out her leg a block away.
Five or six days after my call, Con Edison removed the shunt. Was their “quick” action due to the utility’s fear of my suing them for bodily injuries I sustained?
My shoulder and chest turned increasingly black and blue. On seeing my bruises, friends gasped. Even the shoulder specialist I consulted asked if I, the one who rarely takes an aspirin, was on blood thinner. Xrays were taken. My clavicle was intact; what initially appeared to be a crack was a contusion.
For weeks I experienced intense shoulder pain, which was exacerbated when I had to reach up or lift anything. On doctor’s orders, I suspended my weight workouts at the gym. I worried that I would never be rid of the relentless pain.
Today, three months after my fall, I feel fortunate to report that my bruises have disappeared and I am back to my normal weight-lifting self. And, despite what happened to me, I take solace in knowing that, by my calling Con Edison, the shunt was finally removed, the corner of 92nd and Third no longer a menace to public safety.
Fredricka R. Maister is a longtime Upper East Sider and freelance writer.
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