All I really need to know about feng shui I learned from Lenny Bruce:
"Let's see. I tell you what we'll do. We'll have a vote. We'll sleep in area A, is that cool? ... We'll eat in area B ... We'll throw a crap in area C. Good?"
Actually Lenny wasn't talking about interior design; he was talking about the law, that often blurry line that we draw between liberty and community. Considering the amount of time he spent in the arms of the constabulary, he was remarkably forgiving on the subject.
Somewhere in the long history of humankind deciding what to do where, sewer systems were invented to carry off waste and alleys were created so that trash and utility vehicles would not clutter the streets. As we grew up in Garden City, the man from Myers deposited bottles of milk on the back porch. When you could not think of any possible further use for a given item, it was at long last carried to the alley for the trash men to haul away. The safety and well-being of trash haulers increased dramatically when Dumpsters and trucks with hydraulic fork-lifts came along. The obvious problem that accompanied that change is that many items are too big for the container or just take up too much room. Most of us who live down in the trees consider it impolite to stuff the Dumpster with yard waste, as there is then no place for household trash.
Some years back the City of Garden City decided to compensate for this trash inequity by instituting the Spring and Fall Cleanup programs. The road equipment that they use to move large amounts of trash in a short amount of time cannot operate safely in narrow alleyways. Ironically, therefore, trash for the cleanup has to be moved from the alley, where it belongs, back out onto the street. Nonetheless, all things considered, the cleanup program has always seemed like one of the city's very best ideas. Too often, however, due to stormy weather or plain procrastination, I have missed the appointed deadline. This time I got a jump on things and moved tree limbs, that had been accumulating by the Dumpster for several months, out to the spot on the street where the city has collected them now for years. I live on a corner lot so I now use the side curb instead of the front, as the city's loader can be hard on the grass.
Last Saturday I went into my side yard to pick up branches and litter before mowing. One piece of litter turned out to be a weathered citation from the city, telling me to move my cleanup limbs. I went to City Hall on Monday, where they very patiently answered my questions. (Personally I find it quite difficult to be patient with people like me.) They said I moved the pile "too soon." I noted that others were doing the same. They asked for addresses. Excuse me, I didn't come here to complain about other people, I came here to question your logic.
Herb, the fellow who wrote my citation, said that the pile of limbs could be a haven for rodents. Right. When I was out in the yard looking at Herb's ticket, our mayor rode by on her bicycle. She greeted me with her usual cheery smile and continued down the side street, passing a mere two feet from my code violation. Happily, no rodents attacked. When I stuffed the pile into the Dumpster, I did spot some crickets and pill bugs, but they were not aggressive.
According to the city code, in addition to not putting limbs in my usual spot for pick-up, I am not allowed to stack them anywhere else on my own property or next to the Dumpster in the alley. If anyone else puts stuff by the Dumpster, I was instructed to promptly report it. (Make Garden City a nicer place to live — turn in your neighbors!) Based on these rules, unless I can train my 80-year-old trees to only drop limbs during the first two weeks of October, Fall Cleanup — one of the city's very best ideas — is, for my purposes, totally worthless.
When the City of Garden City complained to FEMA about their methods, some of the folks down at City Hall got their feelings hurt because logical arguments fell on deaf ears. I will continue to support anything the city can do to defeat the femanoids. (The postponement is bogus.) I do have to say, however, that the treatment you received is, in some measure, just a dose of your own medicine.
John Dailey, a Telegram contributing columnist, is the owner of Sandhill Books. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.