Anyone from the Chicagoland area with any knowledge of recent Chicago history is well aware that the porches in this city are not necessarily "built to last." Porch collapses have been a reoccurring theme for Chicago news. I've seen it in the news multiple times, but what comes to mind was the incident in June of 2003. 13 "young professionals" (as they were sympathetically labeled in a CBS news article from the next year) died in a porch collapse in Lincoln Park.
"Kyle, why the hell are you bringing up such a gruesome topic in the midst of all of our early summer fun?" you're probably asking yourself. Well, for one, I'm not on summer break yet so I don't care about your long bike rides, ice-cream saturated beach fun, or your all-night-booze-and-questionable-decions extravaganzas (talk to me in two weeks, though, and I'll probably be riding my bike, dripping with Stephen Colbert's Americone Dream, and paying a visit to my local Old Style distributor simaltaneously to accelerate my "questionable decisions" for the night). Really, though, I'm bringing this up because my neighbors next door are in the process of having a new porch built for them and this scares me for a few reasons.
First of all, my next door neighbors apartment building is owned by the same landlord (slumlord) as our two-flat. Our porches were nearly identical (same shit-brown paintjob and all) and looked as though they were built around the same time (1940s? Not really, but still). We live on the second floor of our apartment building and our porch is not exactly as "young and beautiful" as it used to be (Jesus, I'd love to see the way that shit-brown paintjob glistened in the sun in it's earlier years). A quick tour of the scars and battle wounds of our porch: A wooden "guard rail" that feels as though it's going to leap off the rest of the porch when you lean on it, the beautiful shit-brown paintjob has been worn away in many places on the floorboards (revealing the sad and stressed wood underneath), and let's just say that there are a few places where I can see directly through the floor (kinda like Porky's ... only you're just looking through a hole ... in the floorboards ... 20 feet from the ground).
Now I understand that this probably means that we're getting a new porch in the near future (it only seems like common sense, but then again not everyone is as rational as you or I), but I am still worried. In the near future (if summer break is not just a desert mirrage in my overly optimistic head) we will hopefully be having a decent amount of company at our place over the summer. I'm not saying, "I've got so many friends that we're gonna tear this shit to the ground," but I am saying that as the weather gets nicer, and assuming all of us are still smoking cigarettes (which is a valid assumption) and consuming beverages outside (not an assumption, more of a fact), then the chances of an "accident" occurring may be significantly greater. Not to mention that the wood was frozen solid for some-odd months, the pressure is changing, the temperature is rising, and I'm assuming this process of "ball-shattering winter to pig-sweat summer" stresses the (mostly exposed) wood that is my porch. Also, I can almost see all the way through were the porch meets the brick of the building, so maybe the porch won't collapse as much as just fall over to the side like one of those fainting goats that I've seen on youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=we9_CdNPuJg).
Nonetheless, I don't want to be on that ship when it sinks.