The potholes in our neighborhood have come to resemble the chain of lakes, both in their size and depth.
“And how is this different than it’s always been in the spring?” you ask. It isn’t — which is part of the point. It’s the same seasonal bone-jarring, molar-clicking ride.
I read a story about some clever lads on the East Coast who’ve developed an app that helps you track the worst potholes and then, in theory, avoid them. Good job, guys. But instead of an app that shows you where the problems are, how about just fixing the problems in the first place?
I mean, what am I paying taxes for? I want a truck to roll up in front of my house, a guy to get out with a bucket that has my name and taxpayer ID number, and he pours out the hot smelly stuff and waves.
“Thank you for your contribution, citizen! Your prompt payment of your taxes ensures a smooth, safe ride for all!”
And then I’d wave, feeling full of civic virtue.
“Happy to help! We’re all in this together, and if I can help my fellow citizens get to work without a hubcap popping off, whistling through the air, decapitating a squirrel and embedding in a tree trunk, I’m more than happy to pay for a better Minnesota. And believe me, a distinct lack of headless squirrels is part of my definition of a better Minnesota.”
“I can’t hear you, sir, but since I’m just a fictional character you invented for this interchange, I don’t suppose it matters.”
Well, the other day I got a letter from the city. Most of them I ignore because they’re informational mailings reminding me not to pour motor oil down the storm drains, or something. This one was thick, though, and thick letters from the government are never good. You never get a thick letter full of limericks because they want to brighten your day.
It was a notice that the streets were going to be repaired. Not patched. Scoured down and resurfaced. And I was on the hook for part of the bill. It answered the question “what am I paying for?” Not, apparently, this. “Streets,” in general, but not “street,” in specific.
There’s nothing like an unexpected assessment to turn a Bolshevik into a high school senior who just discovered Ayn Rand. What the holy hey here, huh?
There was a map of the area to be fixed, and I was livid: I don’t drive there. That’s three blocks away. I have no reason to drive there. But I’ll tell you what: I am dang sure I am going to drive there every day now, just to get my money’s worth. Slowly.
I’ll pay it, because it’s my civic duty, and also they’ll take my house if I don’t. If only we could have a sign in the neighborhood like you see on the highways: “You will not have your tailbone slammed into your soft palate thanks to road improvements paid for by the following citizens.”
I’ve just given them idea for signage assessments, haven’t I? My deepest apologies.