Saturday, April 10, 2021

Just Rolling In It

[“Let Inga Tell You,” La Jolla Light, published April 12, 2021] ©2021

I’ve written before about some of the curious behaviors of dogs, but ours has taken up an unwelcome new one: rolling in her own poop.

She has always loved to roll in the grass. We have a huge fenced yard and the odds that she would manage to roll in poop seems statistically unlikely, especially as my husband takes her for a long walk in the morning.

No, we feel it is deliberate.  We figure she did it once, accidentally, decided it felt really good (we’re not sure why) and now seems to seek poop-rolling opportunities.

It’s bad enough when this fluffy white dog seems to have suddenly turned herself two-tone.  But how did she get it in her ears?

And does she then have to run inside and roll around on our bed? The light beige leather sofas in the living room? The white guest room duvet?

As you might guess, a dog covered in poop is a DefCon One Emergency.  It doesn’t matter what else you might be doing.   It has to stop instantly while one of us grabs her up and quarantines her in a sink before she can inflict any more mayhem in our house. 

Invariably, it happens within 48 hours of an expensive grooming.  In fact, she’ll still have the little red bows in her head.

Inquiring minds want to know:  Is she trying to get rid of the foo-foo-y products in the groomer’s shampoo?  Get back to a more natural dog smell?  Get in touch with her more primal canine origins?  Actually, this last could be likely.

I queried my very dog-knowledgeable neighbor across the street to see if she had any theories about this behavior. Jill replied: “Go for it, Lily!!!  That's my girl!!!!  Celebrate your inner wolf!!!!!  Ahh-whooooooooo.”

Thanks, Jill.

A pressing question is why is Lily suddenly doing it now???  She’s 11.  She’s a rescue whom we’ve had for four years so we don’t know her early history. We think this bichon-poodle mix might have been a breeder since she hadn’t been spayed. She was turned into the pound by her previous owner and the first thing we noticed was that she had no idea what dog toys were.  How to play fetch. How to play tug.  In fact, how to play anything.

We’d throw a small ball for her and she’d merely look at us like, “Am I supposed to be doing something with that?  If so, I’m not interested.” 

Finally, I found her some small round rubber squeaky balls that did pique her interest but not as toys.  She would gather them up protectively in a group close to her chest, her paws around them, and lick them affectionately as if they were her pups. 

From time-to-time visitors to the house, not realizing that these squeaky balls were offspring and not play things, would pick one up and throw it for her.  Lily would be enraged, chasing after it but immediately returning it to the rest of her litter and glowering at the guest.

“You just threw her child,” we’d explain to them.  “She’s very sensitive about it.”  They were always hugely apologetic.

So maybe she’s just catching up to behaviors that other dogs got to experience at much earlier ages.

In other ways, she demonstrates perfectly normal quirky dog behaviors. She follows us to the bathroom, preferring to come in and supervise, but if locked out, content to hang right outside the door ready to trip us the second we emerge.  We’ve had to warn guests to be sure the close the bathroom door tightly or she will barge in ready to provide moral support in whatever function they might be executing.

And of course, like all Southern California dogs, she does not like getting her feet wet.  In fact, she is absolutely offended by wet grass or pavement. If it is so much as sprinkling, she will walk out to the end of the front porch, sniff the air, and go back inside with a “Sorry, don’t need to go that badly” look.

But back to the poop issue. In a yard as big as ours, she truly has to seek out a patch of poop to roll in. I decided to research this on repugnantdogbehaviors.com.  

Among the evolutionary theories is that since many species of wild dogs were scavengers, they'd be drawn to smells such as rotting carcasses (which would smell not unlike feces.)  

Alternatively, they might be trying to mark their territory.  Although frankly, there's not much competition for territory in our yard.  It's all hers.  

And last: apparently, sometimes dogs just get bored.  Yup, don't we all. Especially in a pandemic. I guess after a year of no doggie playdates, who wouldn't be tempted to roll in their own poop? I confess the idea has occurred to me too. Maybe once she can start going to dog-friendly restaurants again now that we're back in the orange tier, this behavior will stop.  

Our furniture sure hopes so. 

Yup, did it the day after she went to the groomers.





 

Monday, April 5, 2021

A Cure For Local Parking Problems

[“Let Inga Tell You,” La Jolla Light, published April 5, 2021] ©2021

There have long been allegations that there are plenty of parking structure and off-street spaces in downtown La Jolla if the local denizens weren’t too cheap to pay for them.  Well, OK, we are too cheap to pay for them, but that’s the least of it. 

If the pandemic has shown us nothing else, it’s that expecting the senectitude set to navigate baffling vaccine appointment sites and to have to access menus from Rorschach ink blots taped to restaurant tables is, for many of us, a non-starter. Ditto parking into parking garages and street parking lots that require downloading an app.

Subterranean parking structures are dark, sky-challenged, and creepy, and the stalls are really tight, even for persons such as me who own a compact car. The only spots will be at the very bottom.  Level P4 will be reminiscent of descending into the Fourth Circle of Hell, an image eerily reinforced by the fact that was one is indeed circling ever downward.

They are populated with large pillars, strategically designed to be backed into. Black SUVS will be parked on either side of you in spaces marked “small cars.”  There is rarely (never?) angled parking. The dim light doesn’t help us oldies, whose depth perception isn’t what it used to be, to try to inch out of a space keeping track of both sides of the car AND that pillar behind you.  My last foray into a parking structure ended with my bumper having an encounter of the paint-removing kind. 

Another major problem with parking structures is that they involve machines. If you have trouble operating your cell phone, ticket machines are likely going to present a problem for you, and not just because even to get into the lot, you have to get out of your car to get the ticket which was maliciously placed 1.5 inches from your farthest reach. (Do arms get shorter with age?)

But the really scary part is that on your way out, after you have finally located your car and fought your way back to Planet Earth from the bowels of P4, you have to deal with that machine again. It wants money. And unlike the old days, there is no human in a booth to take it from you and wish you a nice day. There is always one techno-disabled idiot who cannot figure out how to use the machine and holds up the whole line.  I know this for a fact because I am that idiot. I hate lip-reading people disparaging my mother in my rearview mirror.  It makes me sad.

I make every effort to shop locally as I truly want La Jolla’s long-time emporia to stay in business.  And just to be clear, I don’t expect to park out front.  I’m willing to walk five blocks. The exercise is good for me.  But if my parking place involves technology in any form, I’m not parking there. I’m ordering it from Amazon.

But alas, even the street-level paid lots are fraught with obstacles toward the techno-impaired.  It’s one thing to have to shoe-horn money into a teeny slot that corresponds with your stall number.  But those have mostly disappeared and been replaced with requirements that one text a number or download an app.  Seriously?  You lost me at “app”.  And probably at “text” too.  And now some of the lots confront you with those same nasty ink blot things that afflict restaurant tables. (My husband says they are called “3-D bar codes.”)

The clincher is that after you do all that texting and apping, they’re charging a flat fee of $10!  Hey, I just wanted to pick up some drain cleaner at Meanley’s!

All those intimidating paid lots just take so much time! And stress! And make you feel stupid! And require your bumper to be repainted!  So if you could park in a nice free angled street spot in visible daylight instead somewhere approaching Middle Earth, which would you pick? 

 I’m going to make a suggestion that I haven’t thus far seen, and I’m hoping the good folks on the La Jolla Traffic Board will consider it. It won’t make us oldies park in subterranean parking garages, but we might be persuaded to park in those icky app lots if we could just buy a yearly parking pass, sort of like a handicapped placard, that allowed us to park in any street-level lot. I could pop into that $10 fixed-rate lot across from Meanley’s, grab my drain cleaner, and be gone five minutes later. 

To qualify for this pass, you’d have to be 65 or older, and have a signed affidavit from your kids that you are certifiably, untrainably techno-challenged despite heroic efforts on their parts over the last decade to put you on the road to modern living. 

I’d buy one in a heartbeat.  So long as I could write a check to pay for it. 

                                        I wouldn't have a clue how to park in this lot



 

 

Monday, March 15, 2021

Vaccine Wars

[“Let Inga Tell You,” La Jolla Light, published March 15, 2021] ©2021

It continues to amaze me that we can land the Perseverance rover on Mars but that San Diego, two-plus months after vaccine rollout, cannot sort out the horrific daily traffic jam of people trying to get into Petco Park for their first and second doses of Covid vaccine. 

For weeks, TV reporters have been interviewing massively-stressed senior citizens who have literally been sitting in their cars for hours without moving.   One recent interviewee said he had called the San Diego police multiple times while sitting in his car begging them to create some traffic control.

TV news on March 6 featured an elderly Poway couple with appointments who had spent 10.5 hours locked in gridlock traffic -  and never even got to the front gate.

What is truly puzzling is that people are trying to get into a lot designed to accommodate 30,000 cars on game days, yet cannot accommodate 5,000 vaccine patients who the city knows will be showing up daily. 

To add insult to injury, since it is really difficult for couples to get appointments together (don't get me started), many couples have to endure this travesty four times

I do know some people who have had a relatively easy vaccine experience.  But not many.  Scheduling has been the biggest hurdle, followed by chronic cancellations. Once you’ve got that first shot, you’re on the clock for the second one. 

But in true government fashion, when three million Americans couldn’t get their second shot in time (CBS News, February 26, 2021), all of a sudden, it’s not really all that important to get your second dose in the originally-specified efficacy timeline. 

Inquiring minds are suspicious.  

Since I could never manage to get an appointment on the Fall-of-Saigon website of my main health care provider, and my other "invitation-only" health care provider failed to ever invite me, I finally got, through sheer serendipity (and a hot tip) my first dose through a smaller venue.

But then they ran out of vaccine.  As my date for my second shot came near, they were clear it wasn't going to be on the date originally scheduled. Or possibly ever. I began looking elsewhere.

On Saturday, Feb. 27, vaccine appts were opened up for the next tier: teachers, fire fighters, child care workers, grocery workers: an estimated 500,000 San Diegans.  I was now competing with a younger group, more computer savvy, faster fingers.  My second shot was doomed.

Never mind that there seemed to be the Allocation Re-Allocation System Du Jour where x percent of the dosages would now be designated for a specific group. Unfortunately, it adds up to 160% and doesn’t include the current eligible tier.

I’ll confess that a chief motivation was the hope that proof of two doses would make friends we haven’t socialized with in a year willing to come to our house for a meal. Who cares about immunity? I just want dinner.

For weeks, the first thing I did every morning – and multiple times during the day - was to go to all the sites, even the dread evil Petco, to see if they had any appointments available.  Nope.

I was told by several people that one place did actually have appointments but every time I tried to sign up for one (specifying second Moderna dose, which was one of the options), it would say that there were no appointments in San Diego County.

Finally, someone in the Underground Vaccine Railroad tipped me off that this was a computer glitch.  You just had to say it was your first dose, then when you got it, cancel the second dose appointment they gave you.

How is it possible that IT people don’t catch this stuff?  No, don’t answer. This kind of idiocy has been rampant throughout the vaccine scheduling process on multiple appointment apps.  One of my fellow oldies said he tried to sign up on a site that instructed him to “enable Java script.”  Seriously? They might as well have said, “To use this site, you must speak Urdu.”

We oldies really hate perfidy and deception. But these are desperate times. I went ahead and booked an appointment for a first dose that was really a second.  But I lay awake nights worrying that when I arrived, they would cancel me (an already too-familiar experience), a Nurse Ratched-type perp-walking me out of the injection room announcing to all waiting, “Do not even think of pretending this is your first dose if it isn’t!”

I did want my second dose put on my first-dose card so when I showed up and the nurse confirmed that it was my first dose, I said, “Um, hypothetically speaking, if this were my second dose, would that be a problem?” 

“Nope,” she said. “Our website is a total mess.” 

30-plus hours (at least!) and the sheer stress of it, knowing that my health could well be depending on my least competent set of skills (computers). 

So, child care and grocery workers, welcome to the world of Refresh-related Carpal-tunnel-Syndrome. 

Meanwhile, my also-much-cancelled husband got his second dose appointment confirmed. Two hours later they cancelled him again. And so Vaccine Whack-a-mole continues.   


 

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Inga's Ten Steps To A Closer Relationship

[“Let Inga Tell You,” La Jolla Light, published March 8, 2021] ©2021

Anyone who has been reading my column for a while knows that I’m a sucker for those internet articles about how to make yourself look 20 pounds thinner (Photoshop?) or what your car says about you (cheap?)  Recently I reviewed an internet article entitled “14 mistakes that will kill your home’s value.” I concluded that we probably wouldn’t be able to give our house away (although quite a few of those mistakes came with the house).

A recent Valentine’s Day-inspired listicle offered “10 Steps to a closer, more loving relationship.”  I mean, who’s not going to read that?

Well, my husband for one.  Olof is disturbingly sane but there is not a sentimental bone in his body. As of January 20, 2021, we have known each other for 56 years, having met as 17-year-old high school exchange students headed to Brazil for the Southern Hemisphere school year.  After a 23-year hiatus during which we went to college, married other people, and he spent 10 years as an Air Force pilot, we reconnected again. 

So, here’s how those 10 steps to a closer, more loving relationship would work for us:

1. Hang some photos of the two of you together. Go to Michael’s for some cute new frames. Aside from the fact that our house is already filled with pathological numbers of photos, I honestly, I think I could replace every piece of furniture in the house all at once never mind stucco the exterior, and Olof would merely look around for the briefest moment with a look of puzzlement and query, “Is there something different here?”

2. Send him lexts (love texts) such as “I love that you get me peanut M&Ms when I have PMS.” This text would find my husband racing to the nearest toilet so fast I’d be afraid he’d break a hip. 

3. In terms of relationships, positivity means those little fun, romantic gestures.  For us, “little fun romantic gestures” means both of us getting our second doses of vaccine (not yet achieved, by the way) or finally getting grab bars installed in the bathrooms. 

4. Let your partner know the real you.  Hell no.  We’re strict advocates of “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”  In 2006 we were in a devastating auto accident, hit at 85 mph by a drunk driver. Even after I recovered, I found driving very difficult and began seeing a therapist.  It’s not that Olof is against psychotherapy per se; he’s just puzzled why anyone would do it.  In his personal view, if one has a problem, one mulls.  One ponders.  One might even create a flow chart.  No, one especially creates a flow chart.   One certainly doesn’t pay after-tax dollars to some charlatan with a pseudo-degree in what he refers to as the “squishy” sciences to engage in sharing of Too Much Information.

I didn’t mention my therapeutic activity to Olof although if he had asked, I certainly would have been happy to discuss it.  Which, of course, is exactly what he was trying to avoid. I know he wouldn’t have begrudged me any help that the quacks could inexplicably provide although I am sure that he thought if I would just get in the damn car and drive, we could cut the witch doctor out of the equation.

5. Make a relationship bucket list.  I think after 56 years, that bucket is pretty much at the bottom of the well. But Olof is still hopeful that he will be able to go back to the Oshkosh AirVenture Air Show which has been cancelled for two years due to the pandemic. I wouldn’t mind being back in Sweden.  (Sorry, kids!)

 6. Don’t try to change him. OK, I don’t really expect to change him.  But I will never give up trying.  This whole thing of me turning on lights and him turning them off two seconds later has got to stop.

7. Schedule a double date night.  Believe me, we are desperate to socialize with another couple.  It’s been a year since we’ve been able to have anyone inside for dinner.  We are really social people.  Gotta get those vaccines! 

8. Dress up in something special just for him. French maid costume? Does it come in XL? Actually. we both pretty much became bag people when we retired but during the pandemic have descended in a look best described as “homeless.”

9. Let him know you’re committed.  No problem there.  Given that we’ve both been divorced, we’ve agreed that if the relationship doesn’t work out, we’ll pace off in the street with 45s and see who’s still standing.

10. Have gratitude.  This one’s easy. From time to time I try to imagine what my existence would have been without Olof. On every level, the kids’ and my lives have been utterly, totally, vastly improved by Olof being part of them.  I don’t know what I did right to get Olof, but whatever it is, I’m sure going to try to keep doing it.

 

Monday, February 22, 2021

When You Gotta Do What You Gotta Do

[“Let Inga Tell You,” La Jolla Light, published February 22, 2021] ©2021

There are times when you just have to lie. 

All right, I can hear my many lovely devout friends shaking their heads and saying, “No, it is never okay to lie.”   So let this be my mea culpa

I lied. But if I hadn’t lied, I’d probably still have a dead possum in my front yard.

The day started out innocently enough as I hustled the kids out the door to be dropped off at school on my way to work.  I was, at the time, a divorced working parent with two grade school kids.  Getting to my university clerical job was essential to our survival. 

My then-nine-year-old, Rory, was the first to see it:  the huge dead possum lying on its back, feet in the air, in our front yard. 

“Cool!” said Rory, racing over to have a closer look.  “Can I bring it to school for sharing?”

Seven-year-old Henry caught up. “Neat!  Let’s name him Bob.” 

“Do not touch that!” I yelled, in hot pursuit.  I swear this possum looked like it had been happily meandering across the yard then keeled over of a massive marsupial infarction.  Its big eyes were wide open. 

Like most kids of divorced working mothers, my kids were latch key kids after school. I can say this because the statute of limitations is past. It was usually only 15 minutes before I got there. Who can you get to watch your kids for 15 minutes? Neither the school nor my boss were willing to change their hours.

But a lot can happen in 15 minutes.  Especially when you have a child as diabolically creative as my older son Rory.  The Rory stories in our family are plentiful and usually just referred to in family shorthand: “the Jolly Jumper baby brother slingshot disaster,” “the spray painting Henry silver crisis,” “the Jack in the Box ketchup explosion,” “the dropping the big rock down the chimney onto the metal grate two feet from where Mom was reading prank”, “The Cleveland airport debacle” (hopefully the warrant has expired), “the Chinese restaurant fiasco,” “the 15-inch rubber penis in the guest bath during Mom’s dinner party event,” and yes, even “the Bomb Squad incident.” In Rory’s defense, the HazMat guys should have realized right away it wasn’t a real bomb before they cordoned off the area.

Best case, I could see Bob tucked into my bed wearing my nightgown. It was imperative that the possum not be still there when the kids returned.  Rory Home Alone With Dead Possum Named Bob?  There were no good possibilities there.

Turns out that it is not so easy to get rid of a dead possum.  It’s against the law to put it in your trash.  During my lunch hour, I called every agency I could think of who might come get it, even Project Wildlife.  They pointed out that they don’t deal with dead wildlife.  Only live wildlife. Hence their name.   I realized I should have told them it was still breathing. Already my mind was operating in perfidy mode.

But finally I connected with the Dead Animal Recovery Bureau.  And yes, there is one.  Absolutely, they said.  We’ll come and get it.  I was massively relieved.  I gave them my address and noted that the decedent was in my front yard.

There was silence.  “Sorry, m’am.  We don’t go on private property.  We only take animals off of public property.”  And before I could say anything further, he said, “No exceptions” and hung up.

This was a dilemma.  Kids are going to be home from school in three hours, with lead time on me. I told my boss I had a personal emergency and raced home.  Donning rubber gloves I went out to the front yard and surveyed the situation.  Between the yard and the street was a three foot high fence.  There was clearly only one alternative.

Who knew a dead possum could be so heavy?  But once I got a little momentum going (“and a one and a two…”) Bob was airborne. 

Back at work, I was on the phone to the Dead Animal Recovery Bureau reporting a dead possum in the street. I did my best to disguise my voice.

The guy on the phone was suspicious.  “Didn’t you just call?”

“Call?”  I said.

“Well,” he said, “someone just phoned a while ago and reported a dead possum in their yard at this address.”

“Wow, I sure hope it’s not an epidemic,” I replied.  “But this possum is definitely in the street.”  For effect I added, “You might want to report this outbreak to Vector Control.”

When I came home, the kids were distraught that the possum, for whom they had great plans, had disappeared. 

“What happened to Bob?” they asked.

“Some nice animal people came and took Bob away,” I said.  “I’m sorry.”

Well, at least the first part of that line was true.

 

 

Monday, February 15, 2021

The Vaccine Rollover

[“Let Inga Tell You,” La Jolla Light, published February 15, 2021] ©2021

I was going to write about the vaccine rollout last week but my first draft was 25,000 words and they only allow me 800.  But maybe that says it all right there.

As of this writing (February 10), things are starting to look up.  But what a mess the first month has been, especially considering that that the hugely-flawed appointment system was debugged on a bunch of often-techno-challenged senior citizens. When the advice is “ask your kids to help you,” a whole lot of computer science grads should have their diplomas revoked. 

The irony is that while Olof and I belong to, and are eligible to get vaccine from, two major health care networks, neither of them has been able to offer us a vaccine appointment. I was finally able to get my first dose of vaccine from a heath network that has never heard of me.  There is something wrong with this picture.

One of the networks we’re eligible through is using a Fall-of-Saigon approach to appointments.  As they note, they have “over 150,000” members in the 65-75 age group.  So in an Illusion-of-Appointments approach, they sent an email to all of us on January 23 jubilantly announcing that they had acquired 975 doses.  Yes, you read that correctly.

Suffice to say, the system crashed in 70 seconds. 

Three days later, we got an announcement of additional 2,960 doses, then on February 1, 2,000 more. Finally realizing the hostility toward– and futility of  - their system, they now only indicate a non-specified number of additional doses have arrived on a first-come first-served basis.

Our other health network (we’re seriously decrepit so we get health care from two networks) is by invitation only.  This frankly makes a lot more sense than the Illusion-of-Appointments approach from the one above.  The only problem is: we haven’t been invited.  Higher risk patients in our age group are getting priority, which we absolutely agree with. 

I will have to say in defense of our primary health network that they have improved their vaccine scheduling site.  Initially, you would have to scroll through and click on endless pages of “I understands” to even get to the scheduling page where they fooled you into thinking you could actually select a site (or sites) and even a day and time for your first dose.  Frankly, we weren’t all that keen on going all the way to Vista (one of the options).

But every option I picked would come back as saying no appointments available at my preferred location and time.

Finally, I got wise and clicked “anywhere west of the Mississippi (including Vista) during my natural life expectancy” and got back “No available appointments.”  Anytime.  Anywhere.

Now, at least, the site leads with “No available appointments” the second you go log on which saves a lot of time, even if it dashes hope.

Even if you should be so lucky as to get an appointment, no matter how fast you try to get a second one for your spouse, there has been, at least up to this writing, virtually no possibility you are going to get appointments at the same place back-to-back.  So a couple can often expect to make FOUR TRIPS to get your two doses each. 

As far as the Supercenter vaccine sites go, people are uniformly praiseworthy of how efficient it all is once you breach the PetCo gates.  But getting the appointment (which are fortunately now opening up more) and actually navigating the often-massive traffic jam on downtown city streets is another story.  More and more friends have told us that they have simply parked their cars as close as they can get and gone to PetCo’s walk-up station.

The MyTurn.ca.gov site which opened up to help resolve the appointments problem didn’t work the first day. The 211 phone site for the computer-challenged reportedly (from friends who have tried it) can require hours on hold, until you finally give up and hang up. And ask your kids to help you.

I was also terrified that before we were ever able to get appointments through our two health care providers that they would open it up to the next group – people younger, more computer savvy, with faster fingers.  Patience, as I initially hoped, was not going to be on our side.

Upon hearing that denizens of California’s penal system might be getting priority, we started to think we were going to have to get more creative if we wanted vaccine. Maybe knock over a liquor store? Embezzle from the grandkid’s soccer team? Desperate times, desperate measures.

Fortunately, I was ultimately able to get two appointments at a smaller venue although not on the same day.  Alas, as I was literally getting my shot, Olof got a call that his appointment for the following morning was cancelled.  They were out of vaccine.

And that, of course, is the fundamental problem.  Not enough vaccine.

I checked our main health care provider this morning but still no appointments there.  But then, like a deus ex machina, Olof was suddenly “invited” by the other one to get the vaccine. He’s going this afternoon.

Personally, I’m thinking this whole vaccine program has more rolled over than rolled out. But better days appear to be ahead.

 

Monday, February 8, 2021

"Get It Done" actually got it done

[“Let Inga Tell You,” La Jolla Light, published February 8, 2021] ©2021

It is not often that I write an ode to the City of San Diego Maintenance Services.  In fact, this will be the first.  I’ve waited four decades for this moment.

I don’t know who is running the show down there anymore, but the City’s on-line Get It Done app actually, amazingly, seems to get things done. 

When the program first launched in May of 2016, I rolled my eyes, thinking this one more Illusion of Help that the city has been notorious for.

Frankly, I had plenty of reasons to be dubious. For example, some years ago there was a tree on city property that was pushing up the sidewalk alongside my house creating a seriously dangerous situation.  I filed a report with the city’s then-fix-it site. 

Seven and a half years later, a city crew came out. And instead fixed a much lesser sidewalk problem in front of my next-door neighbor’s. 

Historically, there were so many complaints about the city’s appalling inability to fix anything that for a time, the San Diego Union-Tribune set up a hotline where you could post city-related problems that you were unable to get fixed and they would go to bat for you.  But then, for reasons I never determined, the reporter championing this cause disappeared. Moved with no forwarding address? Driven to insanity at the futility of it all?  We’ll never know.

Over the years, I amassed the best collection of San Diego City phone numbers in the entire county. These were numbers that people actually answered as opposed to the ones that were listed in the County phone book or in the newspaper for such services but which rang in perpetuity and never picked up.  In fact, I fantasied that those city numbers actually forwarded to a deserted bunker in Montana.

You knew you had a good number when someone answered with “HOW DID YOU GET THIS NUMBER?” But getting those numbers required considerable guile and cunning, never mind pathological persistence. I possessed all three.

Fast forward to December, 2020.  Right outside our front gate is the access to the water meter for our home. In the 47 years, I have owned this home, I have become adept at removing its cement cover to assess water leaks. Given that our home was built by the lowest bidder after the War, we’ve had plenty of experience with bad pipes.

It’s easy to do. Make sure no water is running in the house (that you know of). Remove meter cover. Avoid black widow spiders who live down there. Take reading. Come back in 15 minutes. If the meter has moved at all, you’ve got a water leak. Tear out hair trying to find it. 

The cement lid over our water meter is probably the original one from 1947. Since it is right in front of our gate and fence, you can’t avoid walking on it. I couldn’t help but notice during the fall that the cement was rapidly crumbling around the edges. It was ominously wobbling when you stepped on it too. Sooner or later, but probably sooner, it would completely give way and someone (us?) would break an ankle, especially in the dark.

On December 27 – a Sunday night over the Christmas holiday weekend, I went on the Get It Done app and posted two photos of the problem and our hopes that the situation could achieve some priority.  By “some priority,” I was hoping for 2022.

So imagine my incredible surprise when I went to put the trash out at 7 p.m. – that would be a mere three hours later – and almost fell over a cone covered by a saw horse over the meter cover.  I couldn’t tell whether I almost fell over because I didn’t expect to see it there or because I was so astonished at the rapid service.  Sunday night on Christmas weekend!

But then, I remembered the seven years it took for the city to fix the sidewalk tree root issue. It was great news that the imminent danger was no longer, but how long would we be stepping into the street to go around it just to access our driveway and trash cans? 

So imagine my astonishment to come home from a black-market hair appointment a mere three days later to find the cone and sawhorse gone, and a brand-new cement water meter cover in its place. 

OK, it wasn’t as though they had to do any cement work or anything.  But still, someone actually showed up and fixed it.

In spite of this recent event, it doesn’t make up for all the appallingly bad service the City of San Diego has provided over the past four decades.  But I am completely and totally dazzled.  With whoever designed this Get It Done app which humans actually look at and act on,

Now if only we could put them in charge of the vaccine rollout. 

 
                                This meter cover was a broken ankle waiting to happen.
                                                And it was right outside our front gate. 

            Against all odds, the City came out and put barriers over it the same day!

And a mere four days later, a brand new water meter cover!