Why doesn’t the city buy a lottery ticket?
You all know how it is, what it’s like just being yourself. It’s the same with me. Some days I am at the top of my game and everything I touch seems to work out like roses, like grass growing under my feet, like the stars singing a chorus in the evening sky. Then suddenly it all falls to bits, and nothing makes much sense. Communications are bungled, the Four Seagulls of the Apocalypse peck at my shadow, and people to whom I think I am being pleasant turn around and snarl at my rotten attitude. It is upside down day. Nothing works, and things seem far more complicated than the facts could possibly explain. That was Monday.
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One day earlier, however, I experience a modest triumph. At precisely 4:20 p.m. Sunday, June 1, I brought down my first mosquito of the season. It died a terrible and immediate death between pages 82 and 83 of my 1988 edition of Harper’s Bible Commentary. (It was part of the introduction.) We all fight mosquitos, both as aggressor and victim. I always think it important to strike the first blow.
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Twice lately I have been approached at the city library door by people lobbying to prevent cuts to the library’s annual budget. I mentioned this two weeks ago, and gave my opinion that even as a humble and frequently impoverished taxpayer I do not want to see anything change at the library. I think it is a fine thing, among the best means for many citizens to actually benefit from city government on a daily basis.
The trouble is that we have a whole list of other things to pay for, too. One thing that comes to mind is the city dump, where oddly enough we can also get books at no cost, although the range of material on offer is often a little narrow. We the people of Rockland also lock up some of the people some of the time, carry away the sick and wounded quite often, plow the roads and scatter the good sand on the ground all winter, extinguish fires pretty much on demand, and operate a public water treatment system — and I see we are on the threshold of investing yet more billions into that operation.
Last week I read that the current plan for our sewer system is to begin by separating rain water and sewage. By all that is stupefying, this was exactly the first thing they told us was to be accomplished by the sewer upgrade carried out in the1990s. What happened since then? Did some deranged fool go around under cover of darkness and reconnect the rain water collection system to the sewage treatment system? Who did this? We should be told.
Finally, there is the opposite of snow plowing. I heard the street sweeper last week lumbering cruelly around the still-sleeping South End at about 6 a.m., rumbling like a wounded stegosaurus as it passed the north concrete tower where I am forced to live at the foot of Mechanic Street. It woke the Four Seagulls, who mistook it for the sound of a lobster boat going out to haul traps and so they flapped off into the sunrise looking for breakfast.
Anyway it all costs money, and I have precious little left after the winter.
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Why doesn’t the city buy a lottery ticket each week? If it wins, it would help us pay for the things we need. For that matter, I suppose I could buy a weekly ticket too. It just never occurs to me.
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I finally got the attention of the Old Man and the Scythe the other day to mow the dandelions and other assorted things that infest the ruins of my former home on Linden Street. He also got rid of the leaves on top of the east tower. I found $4 and a few pennies under the leaves. Rich again!
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At 11:21 a.m. on Sunday, five hours before my great mosquito victory, I saw the first example this year of one of those Norman Rockwell things, a young lad on a bicycle riding up Holmes Street, carrying a fishing rod. Where exactly he was going fishing in that direction, I have no idea. Once upon a time I would have photographed this sight, and spent whatever time was necessary tracking down one of his parents to get permission to put the photo in the paper. Now I am reduced to scribbling about it, which makes very little impression at all.
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My nomination for brilliant headline of the week appeared on last week’s front page: “Candidates seek change for the better.” You can just imagine the editor straining to think of something novel to write above yet another pre-election story, and failing wonderfully, just as I failed a thousand times when it was my job. I look forward with mild optimism to the day in the distant future when we might perhaps read “Candidates seek to royally mess things up inside first five weeks.” It might even be an honest thing to say, a sort of turning point in the way we admit things to ourselves.
David Grima is a former editor with Courier Publications. He can be reached at email@example.com.