Unfinished Business

Permit me, if you will, to rant about an example of the kind of thing that drives me up a wall about government.

Some weeks ago, work was begun on the brickwork at the intersection of Lynn Alley and Third Street.  The bricks were torn up and moved, the dreaded skinny, miniature orange barrels were set up, a sign was posted, yellow tape was strung, and what formerly seemed to be a perfectly good, serviceable sidewalk was wrecked.


No one knows.  But we would have been willing to accept it, gladly, if only the repair work had been promptly completed.

But, of course, it wasn’t.  It has been weeks now, and the same pile of bricks remains unmoved, and the same crappy orange barrels and unsightly yellow tape and collapsed sign block the right-of-way.  Some bricks have been laid, imperfectly, on part of the sidewalk, and all of the luckless pedestrians have to inch their way through the one point of passage that remains.

Seriously?  In all of Columbus, Ohio, is there no one who can finish the damned job?  It’s not even a major job, just a matter of placing a few bricks and removing the yellow tape and appalling orange barrels.  Are there no bricklayers in Columbus who can competently recreate the perfectly adequate brickwork that was there before?  Is there no city employee, elected official, or urban planner who feels even a whiff of pity for the poor downtown workers who must squeeze by this stupid, apparently permanent roadblock and eyesore just because some worker or supervisor doesn’t care enough to finish what they started?

As I said, this is the kind of thing that drives me up a wall.  And it’s so totally unnecessary!

No Surveys, No More

One of the more annoying developments in modern American shopping is this:  you can’t buy something anymore without somebody asking you to take a survey.

Usually the scenario is as follows.  You buy a product, and at the cash register the clerk hands you the ridiculously long receipt and points out the website address that is printed there.  S/he asks you to go to the website when you get home to take a “short survey” (“it won’t take more than five minutes”) so the store “can provide you with better service in the future.”  Sometimes the clerks ask you to give them a favorable mention, by name, when you complete the survey. And, of course, if you do so you might win some kind of prize — like a gift certificate to the same store.

Do any consumers actually go home and complete the requested survey?  Other than shoving knitting needles up my nostrils, it’s hard for me to come up with things that I would less like to do than take a survey where I provide a store with personal information in exchange for nothing — and do so at the expense of my valuable downtime.

When I’m at home, every moment is precious, to be hoarded like a miser’s stash of gold and spent carefully.  I resent it when stores act like my time is so worthless that I would eagerly go home to give a store marketing data that it can sell and rave about the kid who rang up my transaction.