Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sometimes, it isn't such a quiet neighborhood

In last night's post, I mentioned that I had more to write, but was saving it for later. Later has arrived.

There was one more storefront that had a story to tell, that of the the neighborhood pizza joint. I haven't blogged about it before, so it didn't fit the theme of Return at the time. Now that I've mentioned it already, it does. Like La Feast, Hermann's Bakery, and Beyond Juice, it was closed because of an accident, but this story is shorter and has a happier ending.

I was cleaning off my front porch when I noticed a procession of cars driving down my street. For a moment, I thought they were part of a funeral, with everyone leaving one of the two cemetaries that border my neighborhood for a wake at on of the houses on my street. Then, I saw the lights of a police car reflected in the side windows of the cars down the block. That piqued my curiosity, so I walked down to the end of the block, where the cars were turning onto my street. There I saw not only the police car, but a ribbon of yellow police line tape closing off the major street, the next side street, all of the next block and most of the block beyond that. I also smelled gas, as did several of my neighbors who had heard a crash and went out to investigate.

I walked into the parking lot behind the building in the first closed block and saw that yellow police tape also comepletely encircled the pizza place. I also saw a car parked against the building and someone digging into the parkway strip on the side street beside the pizzeria. Not only could I smell the gas, I could hear it rushing out of a broken pipe. I figured that the man was digging to find the turnoff valve. I returned home to tell my wife what was going on.

A while later, I observed a fire truck driving down our street, which I was sure had come from the pizza place. That was enough to make me walk over to the scene of the gas line break. In addition to the fire engine that had just left, there were two police cars, a Royal Oak Department of Public Services van, a Consumers Energy van, a backhoe, and a flatbed truck to haul away the wrecked car. I guess the guy with the shovel wasn't enough for the task. By this time, the smell and sound of escaping gas were gone. I also got a better look at the car parked alongside the building. Its bumper and front fender had collapsed. I couldn't tell exactly what happened, but it looked like the car had run into the gas meter. I came back one last time that night and one of the gas company's crew confirmed that was exactly what had happened.

This afternoon, the pizza place had reopened and everything looked normal, except for the skid marks that led from the major street onto the side street, and up the curb and the car's paint that had been scraped onto the building, leaving what looked like a gigantic bruise. All the employees inside were fine, even the ones that had been working the night before. They told me that the building shook when it was hit and they thought a truck had collided with the place. They were lucky it was only a small car.

If you want to see what the accident scene looked like, Royal Oak Patch has pictures.

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