Thursday, July 18, 2013


I was thinking of myself, posting yesterday, but not looking for sympathy.  We just play the hands dealt, and they do change from time to time.

Something happened today that will cause me to write a letter.  I’ll practice on you all first.

I live in a community of less fifteen hundred souls, disproportionately adults, most going back five or more generations.  They loathe change.  As a twenty five year resident, I remain, to quote Russell Baker, “Come here, not from here.”  Unfortunately I come here with ideas.

I work at the town hall.  At the time I started, it had been restored by the valiant effort of a committee of citizens and is now leased to various business tenants, the rents funding the upkeep of the building. As it should be.

From the beginning there has been friction between the trustees of my township, who own the building and the land, and the committee which oversees the building as to assignment of some responsibilities, in spite of a lease that defines the duties of each party.   

The parking lot is one area of dispute.  Poorly paved, unmarked, parking was helter skelter as occupancy grew.  I fell twice, catching my toe in holes.  I surveyed the building’s tenants; everyone was unhappy with parking.  Other tenants were especially unhappy; they had clients coming to the building.  In fairness to the committee, the “from here’s” who used the lot excused it as “it’s always been that way.”

 In fairness to the tenants, it is a professional building, the tenants are attorneys, accountants, architects; they expect marked parking, a finished and graded lot, and especially handicapped parking, the lack of which could cause any one of their clients to be offended and sue them.  In short, we conspired, and we threatened a rent strike if our complaints could not be aired.  I just love a good cause.

A year or two of unpleasantness was required; we got the lots paved and marked.  As the only person who read and understood the Americans with Disabilities Act, and had the most vested interest in handicapped parking, I asked for input on the layout of the ADA parking.  I reviewed the plans, asked that the spot closest to the door be turned ninety degrees, still in compliance, but allowing the driver to leave without backing up.  It was painted to the original configuration. 

I use that designated ADA parking space.  I pull in as if it had been painted as I requested.  My car is legally parked, within the marked area, oriented so I can leave without turning my head see to back up, and several steps closer to the door.

Today a member of the committee stopped in my office, sat down, chatted idly for a few minutes.  I have known her since I moved to town; we smile and say hello at the post office or the hardware store.  I waited for the shoe to drop.

Yes, “they” want to know why I park across the marked area, not in the lines.  It appears I am defying them, denying the parking spot to another handicapped driver (????).  It is perceived as unseemly. I will continue to park there, so I wished her good day and smiled her out the door.

Being curious I walked through the building and asked tenants if they were “they.”  It didn’t take long; the building is half vacant due to rising rents and lack of maintenance.  We all had a rousing laugh.   One even pointed out to me that all three employees of the township (I am one) park “illegally.”  The remaining two are the road guys I mention from time to time, together with the word sunflower.  One parks on the diagonal across two spots at the back of the lot.  Like a person who wants to protect his car from other parkers.  The other retains his unmarked spot, identical to mine, but at the back of the lot.  Neither of us wants to back out, apparently.

So now that I have practiced on you I will write the committee a letter concealing causticity, except on second reading, explaining that I do not intend to stop forwarding all their mail delivered in error to me, I do not intend to hang up on the daily phone calls from people wanting to rent their reception rooms before I have given out the proper names and phone numbers, I do not intend to stop parking at the back of the lot on election day so every handicap spot is available to voters, and I do not intend to stop parking in the improperly marked ADA space every other time I use the lot.

In my survey of tenants today, it was also pointed out that the other two employees who park “outside the lines” are “from here”.  But mentioning that would only be petty.  I doubt I will ever be "from here."


  1. Go get 'em!!

    and God help 'em.

  2. You tell 'em girl. They haven't got a parking spot to stand on lol.

  3. this could be more exciting than the sunflower. Why is it that people move to an area, live there for years and then don't want any "outsiders" around. They were outsiders once too.

  4. Parking it's a touchy subject will you fight a war over it, if I drove and owned a car I would just park where ever I liked and upset everyone.

  5. It is the same thing in all small places. A group of us were talking about a guy and one girl in the group, who was born locally said, 'Of course he is an immigrant'. We all laughed when we realized she meant he was born in the next county. The funny thing is that she herself has lived all over the continent but she was born here and was married to a local guy. She came back here in retirement and is local even if for 40 years+ she did not live here. But a fellow in his 50s who moved here with his parents when he was 10, is not a local guy!

  6. How long do you have to live somewhere to be from there? I'm not sure why it matters which way you park in the handicap spot. You are taking up the same space no matter which way you park. Can you park catty-corner tomorrow just to mess with their minds?

  7. When you've thought a certain way all your life, and it's the same as the way your parents and grand-parents thought all THEIR lives, it's hard to change. 'Thinking' is not a behavior that has ever been modeled. (On a bigger scale, this causes many people to vote without considering the candidates or the issues - they just can't conceive of ever changing "the way it's always been done".) What I'm trying to say is, good luck with that!

    I do love your line: "Something happened today that will cause me to write a letter." I have been there quite a few times, until I got tired of the lack of change. That makes me a quitter, probably. But I had a seriously ill child at home during that time, followed by a seriously ill parent, so over the years I lost the knack of getting fired up. I wonder if I'll get it back some day ...

  8. 'They' have nothing else in their lives with which to occupy themselves?

  9. Just ignore those petty people "from here" and continue doing what you do. I would enjoy annoying them.

  10. the 'from heres' need the 'come heres'. what else would they have to do with their time? and in the current vernacular...stand your ground.

  11. I think you have a cause worth standing up for.
    "it's always been that way" is not a good enough reason for it to stay that way, especially if people are being injured or inconvenienced.

  12. Ms Joanne, i admire your fluency and your ability to use a variety of vocabularies! You may be past your retirement age (according to your profile) but your memory is very sharp! And i love your style of writing. Teach me please :)