Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Minding my own business

Well, it's finally happened - I've become a meddling old busy-body. Who woulda thunk it? Here's the situation: on our street there are three elderly women living in horrible conditions in what I would characterize as a shack not fit for habitation. It has a warped slab of plywood for a roof and a window that was broken out last year and never replaced. (What they are going to do when the weather turns is anybody's guess.Freeze to death probably.) They have no garbage pick-up, burying their garbage in their yard when they are able. When they can't dig they leave the black garbage bags in piles all over their property. As you can imagine this has resulted in an impressive population of rats overrunning our neighborhood.

Thinking that these women had somehow fallen through the cracks in the system, I sent an email to the City of Burien outlining the problem.

Turns out I am the "problem". A gentleman from city hall called me yesterday. Since he didn't give me his name I'll call him Nameless Official. He told me that he was well aware of the women's plight. His points were:
1. People are entitled to live any way they want. (I thought the exception was if they were endangering themselves and others - apparently I was mistaken.)
2. Rats range for miles. Who knows where they are coming from? (Actually I don't care where they are from - the point I was making was that they ended up on our street drawn by the heaps of trash.)
3. The women don't want any help.
4. The problem will resolve itself as soon as the older woman dies since her two mentally disabled daughters are living on her Social Security check. Since they have no income of their own . . . (Not sure what his point was here.)

Gee, I sure got told. He didn't actually say "mind your own business, lady" but that was the gist. And here I always thought (to quote Dickens) "mankind was my business"! Whatever happened to the concept that communities must look out for the welfare of their most vulnerable citizens? I must have missed the memo that that concept had been repealed. It took Nameless Official to remind me to butt out. And to think that I pay taxes for him to do so. Live and learn. I hope he sleeps well tonight. That will make one of us.

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