From the Editors Perch…

The Object of My Desire

The Object of My Desire

Moral of the Mini-can:

You Do Not Control Bureaucrats Anymore Than You Can Control a Roach 

            When I purchased my first home in Rainier Valley for $15,000. money was scarce, and I didn’t intend to spend any more than necessary.  So when the City of Seattle offered homeowners a lower garbage fee for using a smaller can, I immediately tried to sign up for my ‘Mini-can’.

Well, a quick way for large organizations to cut their operating costs is to replace the job of phone receptionist with voice mail options.  This has been a boon to government workers as it solves two problems in one fell swoop.  First, it demonstrates to the public that your government bureaucracy is trying to cut back on costs and that they are underfunded (ergo sum).  Secondly, it greatly decreases the time government workers have to spend responding to either disgruntled or demanding citizens – another cost-saving feature.  In fact, if the voicemail directions are vague and complex enough, and the waiting time to reach an actual human voice long enough – there is a good chance that the government worker will never have to speak with the citizen over the phone at all.  And nothing shaves costs like not having to provide the service.

So I looked up the number of the City Sanitation Services and dialed it.  For a couple successive days I waited on the line until I could no longer bear it.

But I wanted my Mini-can.   Mayor Royer, our mayor at the time, had created a satellite collection of “mini City Halls”.  These were created with the intention of allowing the citizens more direct access to the city and its services.  So I visited mine.

My mini-City Hall was only 4 blocks away and situated in the local neighborhood business district in the shop front abutting the restaurant where I had my coffee each morning, before driving to work.  The coffee shop was an inviting spot which also included a bakery.  And there was a single cash register right out in the open where people paid for their orders.  The mini City Hall was right next door and not as inviting.   The shop had been walled off with a very secure door leading back to somewhere, so that only a small space remained for a person to sit or stand.  It was painted government hues of beige.  A wood rack on the wall held flyers explaining various city services and how to qualify.  Half of this small front area was also walled off by perhaps an inch thick Plexiglas window, held in a log frame, with a 4” hole through which, if you bent down, you could speak with the person inside in a supplicating manner.  Somehow, it seems understood (for all of time), that the person seated inside will not ask you for what you want.  You have to get their attention.

(I forgot to mention that on the walls were signs warning that the swearing or threatening of any city employee would be immediately responded to by the police.)

The person, whose attention I had to get was a middle-aged bottled mostly-blonde, with the beginnings of a middle-aged spread in a red dress who was painting her nails.  Nowadays the first words out of my mouth would probably be, “Excuse me.  But are you a real person or just a cliché’ slouched there?”  Then, however, I was much more contrite when approaching official power, and just said, “Excuse me?”  She didn’t look up.  She was leaned back and probably assessing a particularly difficult ridge of nail at that moment.  I continued, “I need to get a smaller garbage can?  They have me signed up for a large one, which isn’t necessary and costs more.  So I need to change this and get a Mini- can.”  She looked up.

Not out of duty, I think, but because I had piqued her curiosity.

“You want your… Mini-can,” she said, as if she were referring to the size of my dick.

I nodded, not to be put off.

With a lot of effort, she put her stuff away and rearranged herself.

“What’s your name and address,” she said.

I told her.

She picked up the phone.

“That won’t do any good,” I offered helpfully.   “I tried phoning the Sanitation Department, but couldn’t reach the right section and when I did – if I did – I was put on hold until, well, forever…”

She nodded, but continued to use the phone.

“Yes,” she replied, when the person on the other end answered.  “I have a person here who wants his Mini-can.”  She nodded, and gave the essential information.  “Thank you.”  She hung up and turned to me.  “Your Mini-can should appear next week,” she said.

“Uh?  Oh good!” I said surprised.  “How were you able to get through to the Sanitation Department so easily, when it seemed like I tried forever?  Maybe I could have that number?”

“I didn’t call the Sanitation Department,” she said.  “I called the Mayor’s office.  And no, you can’t have that number.”

Photo from Google Images.

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One Response to “From the Editors Perch…”

  1. Fletch Says:

    A bunch of my neighbors have these! And I always wonder how you can possibly use that for a whole week – Toni’s diapers would fill it up!

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