February 18, 2011

Bureaucracy

I think, as much as I hate to admit it, I might be getting old.  I am starting to think like my parents and in-laws.  For example, when I was younger, I never got why they always made such a huge fuss about having to deal with government offices.

Now, after years of experiences, I cringe at the idea of having to call anyone with a government extension on their phone number.

Our house rests on a piece of land which used to be an open field with a stream and an old cabin with no road access.  The shack is long since gone.  The creek is a favorite play spot for my kids.   There is now a road running through the center of the property which we call home.

For some odd reason, when they ran the road, the powers that be made several decisions which make sense only to the bureaucrats.  One being underline power lines were run down most of the street but our little section still has the archaic overhead lines which tend to go down with every storm that happens through.

Another issue being why the parcel of land across the street is still part of our property.  Two houses stand on the land on either side of it, but the plot in the middle belongs to yours truly.  We pay taxes on it, even though we have never stepped foot on it except to pick up trash tossed out of cars speeding past.

When we bought our house the land was overrun with wild trees and scrub.  As I mentioned, there are two  houses adjacent to it which sit up on a hill.  It boils down to our neighbors looking directly into our windows and their exterior lights, which they keep on all night, shining into our bedrooms and disturbing our sleep.  We decided to leave the trees and scrub as a way to provide us with more privacy.  Everyone was happy with this arrangement.

Until the residents of both houses passed on a few years ago.  The new residents, both from the city, decided to clear cut the whole mess, leaving the debris laying on the hill side as if there was someone else to come behind them and clean it up.  Never mind that no one asked our opinion, even though we are the ones stuck untangling the tax bill every year.

Side note:  And if you think that is something... get this.  Because the property is listed as a separate parcel, there seems to be a constant problem with our payment actually getting applied to our account.  One year, although we had made the payment, they city threatened us left and right as tax delinquents even suggesting that they would be listing our name in our local paper with the unpaid tax bills!  It took a number of phone calls, threats and a trip to city hall to get the whole thing straightened out... for a bill that was less than $10!

Which was annoying enough.  Then, last year, in moves the county.  Now you have all this debris clogging up the drainage ditch causing water to flood the road.  That's what they say anyway.  I've lived here for 9 years during both drought and flood and never seen this SLOPING road flood, but hey what do I care if they want to clean it up instead up me?

But here's the thing.  That wasn't enough.  While they were at it, the workers decided to cut down the rest of the trees that our new neighbor had spared.  Leaving them behind for me and the kids to haul off.  I was getting really irritated at this point.  Would it be too much to ask for someone to respect our property rights?  But it was done, they went away, we cleaned up and forgot about the whole situation.

Until last week, when they showed up again.  Cut.  Cut.  Cut.  Just as we were started to regain some privacy again, up show a bunch of guys with chain saws in hand and cigarettes hanging out of their mouths.  Down came a bunch of the trees.  Which, at this point, we are resigned to never having privacy again, so who cares, right?  But what do they do?  Leave the whole mess!  I was now furious.  If they want to cut the things down, at least they could clean up!

We waited a few days wondering if maybe they would come back and tidy up after themselves.  Which they didn't.  So here comes the moment I was dreading.  Having to call the county and get them to take care of it.

Thank God for teenagers.  I assigned Kaitlin to the task.  She spoke with a few offices who transferred her to a few offices until she ended up with Tony.

Tony said they couldn't clean it up because their office doesn't own a chipper.  And the only crew that does have one loaned it out to another department and they don't know when it will come back.  The call ended with Tony agreeing to come out sometime and take a look at it.  Yeah, right.  Like I believed they would actually show up in this century.

An hour later there was a knock at our door and sure enough if it wasn't Tony.  Who agreed it was a mess and needed to be taken care of.  Imagine that!  He claimed that they would be out by the end of the week or first thing next week to clean it up.  I didn't actually believe that would happen.  It would be too much to expect that they would show up so quickly and come back to do something about it, too.  But hey, what did we have to lose.  At best someone else cleaned it up.  At the worst, we already had a half a day of cleaning and hauling trees and trimmings ahead of us.

As we sat doing school this morning, I wondered what the loud noise was coming from outside.  Tony's promise came back to me, after a few minutes, and I  told the boys to run up and look out the front window.   When they never came back, I knew I must be right and there must be a big vehicle out front.

For once, the bureaucrats came through!  Go figure.

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