Monday, July 17, 2006

Dealing with the City

I have been involved in a month-long gripe with my city. I fear I'm going to be on the losing end, through no fault of my own, no matter *which* way the whole situation turns out.

A month ago, we returned from Disney World, and JF decided to do some yard work. We have a lot of trees and bushes that surround our house, and he was beginning to feel as if he needed to have a machete in hand in order to navigate a path to the front door. So he hauled out the hedge trimmer and went to town. When he was done, he cut the severed tree limbs into the four-foot lengths required by the city, and set the limbs out by the curb for pickup. The pile of limbs was impressive -- a stack about three feet tall awaited the garbage pickup. We had some naked bushes, let me tell you.

So, all that took place on the 17th of June. Our neighborhood's pickup for trash of this nature (limbs, appliances, furniture, and so on...) is the third weekend of the month. In June, that happened to be the 17th. So, our limbs were placed out on the appropriate day, and since JF got started at an ungodly hour, he was finished by 11am.

The limbs sit by the curb and slowly start to wither and turn brown. Over the next two weeks, we see several trucks come by to look at the pile of limbs. One crew stops to pick up a limb or two, only to toss them carelessly back on the pile and go on their garbage-y way. Now, we have a pile of brown limbs that are beginning to straggle out into the roadway. Maybe they just came by to admire JF's bloodthirsty mowing down of those horrible, backsassy limbs.

On the 26th of June, I open the front door on the way out to the grocery store and get a nice little "courtesy notice" from the city saying that we have this pile of limbs to be picked up, and the telephone number of the man who left the citation, asking us to "please call."

How lovely. Why, I was curious to ask, did Citation Man *not* knock on the door to ascertain whether or not anyone was at home? My car was parked right there. He had to walk to the front door to leave the citation -- couldn't he have knocked to see if he could settle this whole mess right then and there? No, of course not. That way, things might have been settled with one short conversation. No -- it's the City! We have to drag these things out a bit!

I call the number listed on the citation, but the person on the other end informs me that Citation Man is still out in the field (like he's a Special Forces operative on a dangerous mission) and will return my call when he comes back to the office. By 5:30 that evening, Citation Man has made it back to the office, and does call. He informs me that since we have this unsightly pile of limbs out by the curb, we will have to be charged extra for an unscheduled pickup. He then goes on to inform me that our pickup for the past month had been the 17th of June. I explain to the gentleman that our limbs *had* been placed for pickup on that very day. I even went so far as to tell him that we knew that this was so because we had just returned from vacation, and we were sure of the date. Also, unless the truck came by at some point in the early morning hours, JF had been working in the yard since at least 8am, and hadn't seen the truck go by.

The nice man tells me that he'll have to check with the truck crew to see what's going on, but he'd have them come back and remove the limbs. We'd still have to be charged extra, but they'd come to get the limbs. Isn't that the way? To be charged extra when we'd done what was required of us --it's the American Way! Yay, capitalism!

On July 8th, the limbs are STILL sitting at the curb, looking more and more ragged. The pile is sliding slowly into the street, like middle-age droop is taking hold. I call Citation Man's office to speak with him again. I'm damned if I'm going to pay extra for a service that's never even occurred! I speak with a nice lady, and I explain the situation to her -- we had the limbs out on the right day, the truck DID NOT pick them up, they're still there, and I'm not being charged for a special pickup that never happened. She writes down the message for Citation Man, and says that she'll see what she can do to alleviate this matter. About an hour later, I hear a truck rumble to a stop in front of my house. I look out the front window, and see a sanitation crew alighting from their truck and head over to the limb pile. I feel very relieved that the crew will finally pick up the pile, and this whole mess will be over. I go back to blog reading, blithely unaware. When JF comes home from work that evening, I tell him that the limbs are taken care of, and he looks at me like I've gone insane. "No, they aren't. They're still there.", he says. I look outside to discover that he's right. They *haven't* taken the limbs. The bastards left them there AGAIN.

More calls ensue. I get a little snippy with the person who answers the phone at Citation Man's office this time. I tell him that I'm not paying for a pickup that never happened. We had the limbs out on the correct date, and it was anyone's guess as to why the limbs haven't been picked up. Instead, they cling to my curb like a withering, brown limpet. The fellow takes down my information yet again to pass on to Citation Man. I rail at JF about how we're not paying an extra $40 for some mythical garbage truck to NOT haul away our former shrubbery.

On July 11th, I try to telephone Citation Man again, still not managing to get hold of him. I speak to the same man to whom I had spoken with on the previous call. He says that he still has my message, and is waiting to see Citation Man so he can relay it. He even reads back my street address and telephone number so I know he's got the message there in front of him. It seems I have developed an archenemy in Citation Man. We are destined to fight this battle to the death. Victor take all!

I never do hear back from Citation Man. He manages to elude me, slipping like satin through my fingers. On July 13th, the limbs finally disappear. I don't know whether Citation Man finally decided I was a worthy foe, or he just wanted to shut me up and get me to stop calling his office. I suspect it was the latter. Citation Man, you were a challenge, but never underestimate the power of a stubborn woman with time on her hands!

I'm still not paying extra, either.


haahnster said...

Not since The Illiad or perhaps The Odyssey have I read about such perseverance! Triumph is yours, at long last.

ccw said...

I certainly wouldn't pay them the extra money.

Glad the limbs are gone, but sorry you had to go through such an ordeal.

Yankee T said...

I love dealing with any form of public works...they're always so polite and responsive.

liz said...

You go girl!