February 6, 2009

Back When Problems Were Not

What a beautiful thing a problem is.

I just clicked on my favorite bookmarks tab to take me to The New York Times and was thrilled to see the home page feature story (as of 8:00 pm) about yet another pressing civic issue.

It was like back in the day! Back when you did not open the newspaper to discover 20,000 layoffs here; 5,000 early retirements there, and fifty-two shuttered Starbucks over yonder.

God bless the reporter Sam Roberts who uncovered this pressing story and strong-armed an editor to feature it:

"How Long to Fix a New York Streetlight? A Year, if You’re Persistent"

"At first, Martin Daniels let it go. Hey, streetlights die all the time. But after a few days, with the light on East 96th Street still out, he could no longer help himself. On Jan. 22, 2007, he called 311...

...Everyone agrees it was finally fixed on Jan. 23, 2008 — a year and a day after the first complaint."

It is reassuring to see the little problems getting ink.

Meanwhile, I should be extra grateful that when I recently called 311, the graffiti-control team responded, quickly (nearly fast as a NY minute), painting over the tag on the light post in front of my house.

And when someone tossed a lit cigarette into my city-issued garbage can, burning it down to a little black puddle, a remnant of which is still affixed to the cement behind my garage, my alderman got me a new one within days! [A shout-out to Vi Daley!]

Yea for the City of Big Shoulders, the City that Works. Maybe I shall call a reporter to feature my tale in The Chicago Tribune.

Yes, good little problems are sweet.

So—what's a little problem that almost makes you glad?

My beautiful new (rat-resistant design) garbage can. I leave soda cans on the lid for the homeless guys who collect them for cash. I hate to have them dig through garbage; it makes their workday a little bit easier.

See neighborhood worker I spotted last week, cans in blue bag on left. No, that's not his van. Under that big pile of stuff is his mode of transport, a grocery cart.

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