September 7th, 2007

krazy koati

And every one of us that ever came to play

Police in Russia, according to a Reuters article, have accused a man of stealing a bridge from a river crossing in the Ryazan region east of Moscow. I hope he did it. Imagine being accused of something like that if you hadn't done it. It could take hours to even understand the accusation. You can try yourself to see how hard it is to answer by going to anyone you happen to know has not stolen any bridges from the Ryazan regions near Moscow lately and accusing them. Be careful, though -- many people thinking they're joking will confess on the accusation. Insist they show you the stolen bridge before calling the authorities.

I bet they accused him first thing in the morning, too, when he was barely awake and hadn't even got all the drops of toothpaste goo out of the corners of his mouth. I just know that's how they'd accuse me if they ever wanted to accuse me of stealing a bridge.

There's no need to ask why he'd want to steal a bridge. I like to think everyone occasionally looks at a bridge and considers how fun it would be to take it away for your own purposes. It's important to me to think that. I'm not sure which bridge I'd steal if I had the choice, though. You can't take something like the Brooklyn Bridge, because you'll be plagued with tourists, and it probably wouldn't fit in the yard.

I might try taking this one that goes over the Raritan River and that everyone I know refers to as the Driscoll Bridge for convenience, though the Driscoll Bridge is actually the one next to it, but nobody knows its real name so the wrong name is close enough. But I can't steal it, as that one's gone anyway, replaced years ago with one less steep and with much less personality. I don't remember hearing what happened to the old bridge. Maybe some plucky Department of Transportation official has a souvenir.

The bridge the man's accused of stealing was only five meters long, which in United States units comes to ... uh ... 627,498 miles? That seems wrong. Once you get past about 25,000 miles you're going in circles. Well, it's small-ish, which maybe was a factor in choosing to steal that one. Maybe it neatly fit a model railroad layout that was demanding new attractions. Or maybe it was the only bridge around that wasn't a toll bridge and didn't have an attendant watching. But he was apparently a municipal worker. Maybe he was the attendant. It would raise fewer questions if a toll bridge's attendant were carrying the bridge somewhere than if it were just a random non-uniformed person carrying it, right?

If you're going to steal a bridge, I wonder how you do take it. Taking it in one piece means not having to figure out how to put it back together, but you have to pull it to one side or the other. It might seem like a lot to haul a five-meter-long bridge around by yourself, but I've managed to move a fold-out couch down one and a half twisting flights of stairs by myself with no greater challenge than explaining what I was doing to the guys in the apartment a floor below me when I was temporarily stymied and they were blocked in.

If you took the bridge apart, you'd have an alibi if confronted: you could say you had an extremely large Erector set, unless you were British, in which case you'd say you had an extremely large Meccano set. Either way you'd allay all suspicion, unless you were a British person in the United States, where the locals have never heard of Meccano sets. You'd have to explain, and probably demonstrate by rebuilding it, and you'd soon have the bridge re-assembled wherever some stranger happened to start talking with you.

Really, the hard part is making sure you haul the bridge to the side of the river you want to take it to. I know that's the part I would get wrong.

Trivia: Butter in Boulder City, Nevada, in the early 1930s was sold liquefied, in jars. Source: Hoover Dam, Joseph E Stevens.

Currently Reading: The Boeing 247: The First Modern Airliner, F Robert van der Linden.