Thursday, February 03, 2005

Icy in DC

Snow is beautiful at first. With snow in the city comes this illusion of quietness and peace. Serenity. But after one cold night of serenity I had enough. The ice covering the back alley prevented me to access my own parking spot and I was suddenly forced to fend for myself and find a spot on the street. I called the city to ask them to clean the alley. Salt it. Sand it. Something. Anything. The first day the dialogue went something like a monologue. I didn't have the time to explain my problem that the woman on the phone was already saying"Sure Ma'am. What's your address? We'll take care of it right away. Your reference number is 349942". I am stunned. Could it be that DC is getting a bad rap? That public services are working after all?
That night I came back home late to an icy slope and yet another parking spot on the street. As I am exiting my car in the bitter cold, I see a police car coming by. I flag it down to complain. It turns out that there is nothing they can do. They can't request a truck to come by, they can't go themselves. They commiserate with me a bit to help me vent my frustration. The next day, my phone call is a bit less polite than the first one. Another woman assures me that they will eventually "get to my back alley". Eventually sounds suspiciously like "in the spring". I am trying to explain that this is extremely dangerous, that the police agrees with that assessment, that the neighborhood is not safe to park at night (I don't mention the fact that I don't have a resident sticker which means that I can't even legally park in the street). As I am explaining all this to her, my temper is slowly rising. I am slowly convinced that I am the victim of this outrageous injustice: My back alley is not being cleaned by the city. I am almost shouting now and I hear myself saying "What I'd like you to understand is that I am requesting the back alley to be cleaned up as soon as possible, because it's dangerous. Not because I'm a selfish pig". I'm not quite sure where the last sentence came from. I shouted it.
There is a silence at the other end and then a voice. Calm. "I think you better talk to my supervisor".
The back alley was still icy tonight.


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