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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Snakin’ It’s Way Out of the Valley…

Slitherin' away

So often we feel ourselves under the shadow, thumb, of  government bureaucracy. Federal and state agencies oftentimes stonewall progress or complicate our lives with regulations, hogtie our plans, goals—dreams in red tape. Whenever I butt heads with “Them,” I think of Dickens’ Office of Circumlocution in his novel Little Dorrit. The O of C was a government monolith whose sole function was to thwart citizens who wanted something done by telling them how things ought not to be done.

The Ripple’s last post lamented a troublesome compost sock, the remaining vestige of last year’s turn lane project, that has snaked along our hedge out front. I have worked around this bulky tube all summer, fighting the weeds that sprung up behind it, in front, and through the thing. Although its stuffing was supposed to be fully compostable, I discovered much of the contents to be otherwise. I had hoped to slit the netting and spread the compost along the base of the hedge but found it so full of shredded plastics and rocks that spreading the stuff would have littered the right-of-way with an unsightly mess.

In an email last Friday I shared my problem with WSDOT’s Lorena Eng who superintended the 203 project. Ms. Eng replied that she would have the sock removed and disposed of in a responsible way,that she had been led to believe its contents were “fully compostable” (“—maybe in 200 years,” she added after viewing a photo of wheelbarrow full of the stuff). The Ripple is pleased to inform you Ms. Eng is as good as her word.

Yesterday around 013:00 a white DOT pickup truck, caution lights flashing, stopped on the shoulder out front. I went to investigate and found two orange-vests wrestling the heavy sock out of its lair. Mike and Ed, two of DOT’s finest, bisected the big constrictor with an ax and proceeded to coil the tail section in the bed of the truck.Snake wrestlin' They backed the truck into our driveway and went to work on the head section of the beast, coiling it next to its tail. A mere twenty minutes it took for Mike and Ed to remove the sock, neatly rake smooth the channel that was its resting place, and sweep the leftovers from our driveway. They even carted off the wheelbarrow full of compost I had gathered as show and tell for Ms. Eng. Sock gone. Problem solved.

“You can’t fight City Hall,” the old dictum states. But I say don’t give up the good fight. Write a letter, make a phone call, speak up until someone hears you. Shout, if you must. But do so tactfully. A bit of humor won’t hurt, either. Sock it to ‘em, but state your case with good old commonsense: that’s guaranteed to take any bureaucrat by surprise.Snaked away

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