Sunday, April 3, 2016

Trying Not to Break the Rhythm

Necking with cup-and-cone failure of a metal rod
 under tension. Via nsw.edu.au.
Now that I'm retired, Sunday is not a day of rest, just a day without Chick-fil-A. It takes extra effort to begin without the routine of sitting in the restaurant, popping open the laptop to get some free WiFi. 

I sit at my home desk to get into the rhythm; my fingers on the keyboard pull me along, and the stories I'm recording keep me going. Today I was surprised to learn there were some missed opportunities, things Ken Cummings regrets not doing.

Here is a quick example from Meant To Be Here of one of those regrets: 

The mining community we lived in near the end of our stay in the Republic of South Africa was strictly a bedroom community, inhabited almost entirely by mine employees, plus a few retired mine workers who had bought their property from the company as a sort of pension. A nearby industrial city (town, really) named Springs was our source of "big city" pleasures: a night-club where they had a little dance floor, a Kentucky Fried Chicken place, a public library, an Arthur Murray's where we took ballroom dancing lessons, a creditable little zoo.
My wife was working in Springs on a day when I had a holiday, and I had dropped her off at work. I parked in town, and set out for a stroll above-ground for a change. I was walking along the street when I heard a clear sound, one that is very familiar to those who have taken the Strength of Materials lab course sometimes known as "Rod-Breaking 101." The sharp TUNNGG! vibrating through the air marked something metal breaking: a rod, a bolt, or maybe a string of rebar.
To this day, I regret I did not snatch out the disposable camera I was carrying in my pocket, but this was long before the reflexive picture-taking that is a common response now that we all carry cameras in our phones. Instead, I turned towards the sound just in time to see a tower crane slowly topple over.
At the pivot of the falling tower, just out of view behind a four- to five-story building that was under construction, one or more of the anchor bolts had failed. The ringing report of that bolt failure was the sound I had heard.
The crane tower, seeming to move in slow motion, fell toward the incomplete structure. It hit the top of the building's near wall about a quarter of the tower's length below its cab.
As it hit, the tower boom flattened out on the top of the building. Ponderously, the balancing arm with the crane's massive concrete counter-weight began to pivot around the point where it connected to the tower. It swung over the top of the building near a corner of the structure's wall, and smashed into the side facing me.
Rather than the vivid memory of the bright metal-failure and the slow-motion failure of the crane, I could have had a series of shots illustrating the whole sequence, worth hundreds of Rand to the local paper.
I tell myself that the camera would simply have been confiscated by the police who showed up at the scene almost immediately, if they knew I had it. But that's just sour grapes, my regret for an opportunity missed.


I will not regret a day wasted. The best way to avoid regrets is to seize opportunities as they are presented. Of course, even when I miss the chance to write on Sunday, I can always sit down on Monday, take a bite of my chicken biscuit, and write about missed opportunity...


Word Count: Day 3 Session 1: 4523; Session 2: 3563
Word Count Total: 16,924 words