I requested a couple of signs for my street last week, and was told that there's a critical vacancy in the city's sign shop, and without a person in that position, even simple "No Trespassing" signs for the city's abandoned properties, are impossible to acquire.
I get the impression that various city agencies are running scared because of the economy, and the impending change of guard. But instead of stepping it up to prove individual and departmental usefulness, a lot of employees and departments are slacking off (in some cases, more than usual). I can see how such an approach will cause others in the city to wake up. But it's unlikely to make anyone say, "Oh wow, life is so much harder without that service; I'll be sure to respect that person/agency more!" We're going to say, "Screw 'em. Let's get some people in there who will do the job, especially when we need it most." By the way, I'm not totally unsympathetic to working conditions for city employees. I'm just tired of getting hosed.
My aggravation stems from my experience that there is very little neighborliness in Trenton; little spirit of community. Glen and I know we can't count on our neighbors for anything, unless we offer to pay them, and we won't do that, because neighbors don't pay each other to provide a bit of help here and there. An aside: I'd be willing to pay a neighborhood kid to shovel, or mow, but many of our neighborhood kids are selling drugs. The folks who do offer their seasonal services are usually well-intended, but addicted to crack, and I really don't want to support their habit.
Not too long ago, while I was pregnant with Matthew, Glen and I got a new bedroom set. Two people can usually manage well enough, but like I mentioned, I was pregnant; and since we lost Catherine at term, Glen did not want me even looking at the furniture before it was properly installed in the bedroom. Two of our neighbors (our "decent" neighbors!) were smoking cigarettes in front of their cars, which were parked near our truck with the furniture, and they didn't offer to help; they just watched Glen unload the furniture by himself, while I looked on. Yep, two able-bodied dudes just stood around, smoking. By the way, Miss Karen helped Glen bring some of the old stuff out of the house, and she didn't charge a dime. (Thanks again, Karen!)
The lack of good samaritan-ship runs rampant through the city, affecting residents and employees alike. It may be wrong of me, but I wish that city employees in the departments with the power to directly impact our quality of life would pitch in and just work a little bit harder for us right now. It is a lot to ask, I know. If more city employees were city residents, that would be incentive. Still, as I've mentioned, there are so few of us asking for signs, and inspectors, and police, and smoother roads — considering that the remainder of the population is largely disconnected and often criminal. So, just wish the city would just throw us a bone. Come on.
The bone coming our way will likely be a different kind than I just requested. And because of that, and because I hope to foster a better sense of neighborliness, I offered to volunteer in the city's sign shop a few hours a week to help make the signs needed for my street, and elsewhere. I was told my request was forwarded to James Allen, Assistant Director of Public Works, earlier this week. Maybe I don't have the exact skills for the task, but I bet my background is pretty compatible, and my anger at our living conditions will provide inspirational thirst for learning.
So, I'm waiting to hear back from Mr. Allen, and I'll update my blog with any developments.