Wednesday, March 26, 2008

See what complaining can get you?

They really did a bang-up job! Tire tread marks streak the street now, which I'm sure someone will complain about. This whole episode lasted about three or four months. The remainder of our cracked street goes unrepaired, as I expect it will for some time. Also, my key sticks in my mailbox, which has no street light over it. The intersection down the way desperately needs a stoplight. I would like the graffiti on the neighbor fences to be painted over at a faster turnaround. And then there was the day the hydraulic line failed on the garbage truck, releasing its mechanical bowels and dumping a puddle of brake fluid at every house in my cul-de-sac, staining the street with a large blotch and a trail between them. The street cleaner fails to mop up every time around, and we're still parking on the lawn when he rolls by every other Thursday with the parking citation specialist. I would like the Dept. of Mosquito Abatement to take care of the standing water problem in the abandoned house next door. Others on my court are concerned about the level of street noise from the adjacent boulevard. I guess it could use resurfacing.

I jest, of course! In a minute I could tell you what's wrong with this country, but it takes a while to figure what's right with it. That's human nature, unfortunately. This is why I always encourage people to get some travel in while they're in college. For the perspective. You should see the size of the potholes in, say, Mexico! Potholes are a fact of life in most countries, I believe. They probably don't even have the word "pothole" in most of the world. They're just called "roads".

What's the average turnaround time on pothole filling in most American cities? I imagine it's about the same as Oceanside, depending on the size of the pothole and the size of the city. Americans see a pothole and they curse their wasted tax dollars, not considering that we have the safest, widest, best-designed streets in the world and we don't have to slip the cop an extra 50 bucks just because he pulled us over for the broken tail light.

I drove from Mexico City to Acapulco once. It took a couple days. Truth be told, a good section of the highway was actually in excellent shape. It had just opened, so it figures. The older roads were a disaster, which says more about the politicians than the highway workers. Seems everyone will rally behind a "New Road!" but few hurrahs are heard for maintaining the old ones. Federalis stopped us every eighty miles or so just to check us out. The same friend and I also rented a car and drove the length of Great Britain from London to the Scotch highlands to Wales -on the other side of the road, mind you. It was impressive how nonsensical the road signs were, and how all of the lines on the streets were white. I remember the sign crossing the border into Scotland: WELCOME TO SCOTLAND -STAY ON THE LEFT SIDE OF THE ROAD.

I've driven from Mexico to Canada and from the Pacific to the Atlantic and hardly needed a map. In college, I used to drive to Tucson from my home in L.A. and all I'd have to do is get on the 10 heading east, drive 500 miles, and get off at Tucson Blvd. and be at school! If I had kept going, the 10 would've taken me all the way to Jacksonville, Florida. Want to go to Seattle? Take the 5 north. Want to go to Las Vegas? Salt Lake City? Helena, Montana? Take the 15. Even numbers go east-west, odd numbers go north-south. Simple. American roads are fine, well-made things and I suspect it's because Americans are travelers and explorers at heart. 500 years ago, everyone just headed for the frontier and ended up on the edge of the map in a vague, unmade place called AMERICA. Then we kept going west, and invented the airplane, the Cadillac, and the rocket ship along the way. Even today the only thing stopping us are all the complainers.

Last week they repainted the lines on the surrounding streets in my neighborhood (the street dividing line is a bright yellow -GENIUS!) Our system seems to work pretty good. They haul off your trash for you, clean your streets, deliver inexpensive water, gas, and electricity to your house (and yes, I believe it's relatively inexpensive when you consider the ease-of-use.) We have freeways, public transportation, clearly written signs that tell you where you are and where to go, and the city lights up at night. When you flush the toilet it all goes away. There's schools, hospitals, parks, harbors, airports, bridges and, generally speaking, you can go outside and not worry about getting blown up.

What a country!