Posted by: Katy | February 12, 2008

Strange But True Story

mardigras-theft.jpgDriving down Napoleon Avenue after leaving the Mardi Gras day festivities (and by the way I can’t believe this occurred a week ago!), I look over at the truck next to me.  I couldn’t believe what I saw in its bed—the ENTIRE traffic light and street sign for Constantinople Street!  I searched the side of his truck for some kind of sign or notice that he was a city official, possibly a public works employee.  None to be found.  In fact, he had a Mississippi license plate, and who in the world would be doing public works maintenance on Mardi Gras day (when all city offices are closed)?  It truly appeared that this guy had either run into or otherwise dismantled an entire traffic light and street sign.  And then drove away in broad daylight with no one the wiser!  (At this point, I have to remind myself where I live and in what context this occurred.  1.  New Orleans  2.  Mardi Gras Day).  I try to be a good citizen.  I write down his license plate number on the back of my paper Carnival mask.  I even photograph his truck.  When I got home, I called the police department in my district.  The officer acted like I was INSANE and told me they don’t handle such issues.  Don’t handle—-but wait a second!  This guy was STEALING from the CITY!  Wouldn’t this be something law enforcement officials would be expected—even required—to look into?  Especially since I made it easy by providing them with a plate number, description, etc?  The officer gave me the number for the department I needed to call who would “handle it.”  I believe she claimed it was the phone number for Public Works.  After I got off the phone with the NOPD, I called the number and encountered a funny sing-song message informing me that this number was not in service.  Fantastic.  [Disclaimer before negative remark:  I recognize that for every negative thing I say about my city, there are a dozen positives.  But occasionally in order to survive the madness, one needs to complain.  I am not trying to project a backward image of us here.  I’m just discussing my own personal experience.]  Here I am trying to be a good citizen and make an effort to combat crime and maintain our falling apart streetscape, and I get no response from my public officials.  Perhaps I should have pressed more, should have insisted to speak to someone in charge, etc.  The problem with having to continuously go the extra mile to see a problem addressed is that I don’t have all the time in the world to get it done.  Nor do a lot of other folks.  Which is why we often find ourselves in a mess.  The average citizen who wants to do the right thing often finds him/herself stymied in a bureaucratic web of incompetency.  All right.  End of rant.

Just wanted to let the residents of Constantinople Street know that their traffic light is somewhere in Mississippi right now.  And why.

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