Ca-CLANK!

The loose manhole cover right outside Ron's bedroom window on Central Park West was driving him nuts. He called Con Edison, but said he was given the runaround for weeks. He tossed and turned night after night, showing up for work in shambles.

Ca-CLANK!

"These ill-fitting covers are made on the cheap in India," said Ron, who requested his last name not be used. He kept calling Con Edison, to no avail. Finally, he took matters into his own hands.

In the wee hours one day in May, Ron decided to do his own repairs. He slipped out and stuffed wood wedges into the manhole cover gaps, then went back to his apartment. Success! He slept for the first time in ages. But soon after . . .

Ca-CLANK!

"The filling fell through," he told me. "It only lasted a day."

Again, he went to his job exhausted. "After a few more sleepless nights, I guess I just snapped," he admitted. At 3 a.m. he dressed himself all in black, left his apartment and into the street. When the coast was clear, Ron began gluing the manhole shut. Suddenly the headlights of two police cars blinded him. "Put your hands in the air -- now!" the cops demanded. As they approached, Ron could see they had their hands on their holsters.

"Let me see some ID!"

Ron suddenly realized they might think he was a terrorist -- that they could have easily shot him. He pleaded his case. They huddled, and to his eternal gratitude, the officers let him off with a stern warning.

"Maybe one of them had the same experience," Ron guessed. This isn't the first time a faulty manhole cover has caused chaos. Last month a loose cover in the Bronx was dislodged by a passing car and flew into the air, killing a trucker.

Ron was determined to solve this problem. He kept badgering Con Edison until, months later, it finally sent a representative to view the offending cover.

Ca-CLANK!

"You've got a point here," he grudgingly admitted to Ron. Soon after, Con Edison sent down a crew and fixed the cover.

Ron slept through the night for the first time in months, frightened by how far he had gone, but pleased with the result. "One lid at a time," Ron concluded.