It started with a polite letter, weeks ahead of time, announcing that our block would be ripped up so more sewer pipes could be installed. San Francisco gave us a “heads up” before noisy bulldozers, raucous forklifts, and headache-inducing earth compactors invaded our peaceful turf. How thoughtful.
Closer to the start date, “No Parking” signs – those orange and white blossoms of inconvenience – were posted, but they stated that if work had not begun by noon on any given day, parking was allowed.
My fears, born of harsh encounters with NYC jackhammers, began to soften. Enough for me to brave a conversation, one early morning, with handsome, red-haired Steve who came to measure and mark our street before operations began, making our street look like a patient before plastic surgery. I girded my mental loins for battle. I had been there before, with urban street repairmen, and it wasn’t fun.
But young Steve was courteous, almost courtly. He kindly explained to this middle-aged worrier, still in her pajamas and robe, why the work was being done, how it would proceed, that we would still be able to get in and out of our garage and they would even help us do it safely. It was Steve and I, in the morning sun, chatting like neighbors over a back fence. I never wanted to do that with NYC utility guys. Usually, I felt like taking out a small handgun and shooting them.
Driving to Fort Mason one morning, I noticed more streets that were being ripped apart, so I decided to test my theory that S.F. workmen are more helpful and better natured than their Eastern counterparts. Parking at Safeway, I stepped around the wounds in the road and walked up to the boss, Daniel.
Daniel turned out to be just as cordial as Steve was! Explaining the work, what would be accomplished, and how long it would take, as if he was trained to take care of the public as carefully as he was taught to dig up roads, he made me feel like I was on another planet where men in hard hats are civilized beings instead of rude jerks.
There’s a thing called the Sunshine Ordinance here, and it’s first line reads, “Government’s duty is to serve the public, reaching its decisions in full view of that public … .” I was looking through the minutes of the May meeting of the Committee for Utility Liaison on Construction and Other Projects because I wanted tell them what a good job Steve, Daniel and their crews were doing, and how nice they’ve been while doing it. I was almost sad to see my boys leave when the job was done. I will especially miss tall, Irish Sean who petted my dogs and told rousing stories.
The minutes also listed the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force folks who attended that May meeting.
Perhaps I will call and invite them for coffee.