Friday, October 26, 2012

The Epoch of Belief....

This week that was here in the State of Concrete Gardens has emitted a decidedly Dickensian vibe.  

The little South Jersey town of Clayton learned that evil lives everywhere - even in a sleepy little town.  You may awaken one morning and think that you have seen the worst of what the world has to offer.  Then you flip on the local news or open the newspaper to learn of two teenaged boys who allegedly were so utterly callous in their disregard for the proper value of things that they decided a BMX bicycle was worth more than a 12 year old girl's life - stealing the former and discarding the latter (from whom they are alleged to have taken it) in a recycling container as if she was a bottle of bleach or a Chinese food box.  Autumn Pasquale and her family should be spending this weekend preparing to celebrate her upcoming 13th birthday.  They are not.  Instead her parents tomorrow shall endure what no parent is ever prepared emotionally to endure:  they shall bury their little girl.    

Against this backdrop of despair and almost unfathomable cruelty, a ray of hope was found.  Earlier this week, the New Jersey Journal published the heroics of 24 year-old James Baber.  A week ago Thursday - on October 18th - Baber was in Journal Square in Jersey City in order to catch a train to take him to Newark.  Baber is (cue the Alma mater) a student at Seton Hall University's School of Law.  Apparently as he was heading towards his train he spotted a woman trip and fall from the platform onto Track 3.  He hustled over to where she was and - instead of calling for help or (as I would have done) freezing and being unable to act - he launched himself onto the tracks and rescued her.  

In addition to attending law school, Baber works for the Hudson County Law Department.  It is worth pointing out that his act of valor became public knowledge only because one of his co-workers contacted the newspaper and told of his exploits.  This is not a young man particuarly interested in banging his own drum.  When the newspaper caught up with him earlier this week and he walked them through what had happened, his nonchalance was astounding:  “It’s not like there was much of a thought process.  There was a man waving his arms to signal the train to stop, but no one else was going to be able to get there in time.”

The life he saved was that of a seventy-two year-old woman who, I assure you, is most grateful that this future member of the Bar acted as decisively and as swiftly as he did.   About a year and a half ago I had the pleasure of trying a case in front of his dad - who is a a Superior Court Judge in Hudson County and who was at that time assigned to the Civil Division.   Good man and one who I am quite confident is damn proud of what his son did.  And probably not surprised at all. 

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

Old Chuck Dickens was a wordy son of a bitch.  But when he is right, he is right.  And this week - here in the State of Concrete Gardens - he flat-out nailed it.


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