Sunday, April 09, 2006


It never ceases to amaze me how some people live to delegate. That way they can absolve themselves of all responsibility and get other people to do their dirty work for them. Ask me about it.

For example we were exchanging small talk with our next door neighbor. At the point when we were saying out good-byes, the neighbor two doors down suddenly runs towards us waving his hands madly. We figure it has to be something important.

"Hello! Hello!" he yells to us until he is standing directly in front. He extends his hand towards my husband and they shake 'man-o-to-man-o', a broad smile on his lips reflecting a lot of teeth. Maybe too broad upon reflection... We figure he's just being a friendly guy.

At the point where we're start to turn away, he suddenly blurts out, "dirt!" My husband and I look at each other.

"Dirt!" he repeats, pointing to the road. "Lots of dirt!" his finger extended in a 45 degree angle.

All eyes move on the road and we walk to the curb and stare down.

"They haven't come to clean the streets, yet!" Mr. Neighbor Two Doors Down states, his eyes blazing with that 'I'm-consumed-with-a-cause' expression on his face.

"Yeah - I noticed," I respond. I mean, what's a person supposed to say under those circumstances? 'oh really?' or perhaps 'I'm not into dirt?'
An awkward silence follows for 10 seconds and we all stare at each other and then my husband and I start to walk away.

"What are WE going to do about it?" he asks following us.

"Do about it?" I repeat, wondering if he's perhaps about to suggest a mass street sweeping project for our block.

"All that sand in the street! What are WE going to do about it?"

This is followed by another uncomfortable period of staring at each other with nobody saying anything.

" phone the Public Works Department and tell them about it?" I ask innocently, the words rolling off my tongue as if they had a will of their own. It was the opening Mr. Neighbor Two Doors Down had been waiting for and I had given it to him. It was akin to opening up the barriers of a flood gate and allowing the water to gush forward.

"Them?" he spat out, like the words burned his tongue. "They don't care! They take your name and your address and that's it!"

"But...did you call...the Public Works?" I re-addressed my question again, firmly taking charge of the situation.

"You think I'm going to waste my time calling them?" he went on, obviously on a rant.

"It is only April," my husband added his two cents worth to the subject. It was at that point that I threw him "The Look" warning him to be very careful what he said from that point on.

"Only April? ONLY April? The snow has been gone for a while now but have they cleaned the streets even once? Nooooo! Not even once my friend because they don't care! They don't give a damn about us!"

"He's right, you know," my husband turns to me. "They haven't cleaned even once."

"Disgusting!" Mr. Neighbor Two Doors Down comments.

"They could have cleaned already," my husband added. "There's no excuse for all this dirt."

" excuse," Mr. Neighbor Two Doors Down concurs.

"They're fast to raise our taxes but do they give us service?" my husband went on, obviously getting right into the spirit of things.

"No-they-don't!" Mr. Neighbor Two Doors Down responds, pleased now that he's got ally. "No service at all!"

"They have those big street cleaners with those big brushes but how often do they use them?" one of them said. At that point their two voices had melded into one loud whine. It was like a verbal ping-pong game.


"Yeah - never!"


"No good at all!"

The conversation had slowly escalated to the point where it was attracting the attention of neighbors. To an outsider it could easily appear like two guys having a verbal fight - or worse.

"So did you ever call the Public Works Dept.?" I asked, again, trying to de-escalate the situation.

"," he responded, his facial expression exhibiting embarrassment at having been caught. "You call."

"Me? Why me?" I ask.

"We all gotta call!" he went on, "or it won't work."

" didn't even phone them yet!" I remind him.

"Aw sweetheart. C'mon. You know all the right people to speak with," my husband suddenly jumped in as if this was suddenly my responsibility.

"Yeah! You know them all!" Mr. Neighbor Two Doors Down jumped in. "I mean, how long would it take you to call them? Two minutes?"

"Maybe even less. My wife knows everyone!" my husband added to give his statement weight. "She writes for a newspaper," he tells the neighbor proudly. It's at this point that the two discuss the merits of a small weekly newspaper versus the dailies.

"You didn't tell me you write for the newspaper," Mr. Neighbor Two Doors Down says as if the street cleaning situation has suddenly all been dropped in my lap.

So now we're waiting for 'them' to send out the heavy street cleaning equipment with the big brushes in front. Anything smaller won't do the job, Mr. Neighbor Two Doors Down and my husband have agreed. If they don't - they'll get me to call again. After all - I know everyone!

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