Sandy and the Dangling Crane

We create our own disasters sometimes. Whose bright idea was it to leave a crane erected like the gallows over NYC yesterday, for instance? Did they not get the memo about the worst storm of the century bearing down?

I admit I did little myself to prepare for superstorm Sandy. Murphy’s Law might thus have sealed my fate — sparing those who were ready and doing in those who were not — but instead I snugly checked into a king room at the Embassy Suites after my shift, on the company’s dime, and kinda kept working, watching the horrific drama play out on an HD TV. Make that TWO HD TVs, one per room. Drat. I couldn’t quite watch from the bathtub.

“Crane expert” from “Goose Creek”?  I had assumed he was an ornithologist.

I deserved that bath, though, because I managed to turn what was little more than a heavy rainstorm in metro D.C. into an unforeseen (and untold, ’til now) disaster all my own.

Friend and colleague Sharyn checks out the damage to our headquarters.

If you saw my blog yesterday, you’d know that a giant “A” descended from the heavens at US TOD Y headquarters. As an investigative copy editor, I made it my mission to trace the source. I’d already examined two intact USA TODAY signs on the building and three GANNETT signs. I figured there was one I couldn’t see from indoors, so after my shift I meandered onto the median strip between the building and the Dulles Access Toll Road.

Turns out that at that time, about 8:15, our region was being hit the hardest, with gale-force winds and buckets of rain. I nearly fell down or was picked up, unsure which, and as I breached the treeline, I was startled by a CRRRAACCKKKK and blinding flash of light. I figured I’d met my doom. Still, I managed this photo:

Another “A” accounted for.

I also completely peed my pants.

One of these letters is not like the others. Can you tell which one?

By the time I made it to the hotel, drenched to the bone and smelling vaguely of urine, I figured I deserved that bath. Because I’d learned from the security guard upon exiting work that my mad search was for naught: The “A” on the ground was but a protective sheath of the letter on the building that had blown off.

My initial photo clearly shows the “A” in “USA” is receded. No great mystery. The “D” sheath also fell, about two hours afterward. A dropped “AD.” Happens all the time in the newspaper biz.

I’ve doffed my own protective journalistic sheath as I remain glued to the sad news elsewhere. My warmest, driest thoughts go out to those truly suffering in this storm — people who didn’t create their own suffering.

And, with my free oatmeal, grapefruit and piping coffee, I’ll have a side of rainwater as I watch the hotel’s atrium leak  — safe from any further embarrassing leaks.

Then … it’s back to the office and being on the lookout for dangling modifiers, not building scraps.

The leaky atrium at the Embassy Suites Tysons Corner in Northern Virginia.

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