Fighting City Hall and the After-Bounce

It’s impacting all of us, everyday. Traffic and the inevitable stresses and strains of our growing urban areas. Regardless of your specific locale, we each have to wrestle with challenges resulting from increased density—and just be grateful we don’t live in Cairo or Mexico City or Mumbai because it’s way worse there! Previously, I have written about the life lessons to be taken from nuisance issues such as predatory towing, but today, I am focusing on the ability of one person to effect change. Now, for those of you who may claim to have no interest or concern about such pedestrian issues, I urge you to keep reading as one of my goals with this blog is to interweave daily experiences and how we might apply them to bigger lessons in our lives.

Attention Re-booters of the world, you, too, can fight The Man and win! I bring to you a message of empowerment and hope.

You   Can     Fight            City Hall.

Now for the details: here in DC, I live on a street on the edge of the District that was formerly a bucolic thoroughfare en route to Montgomery County, Maryland. No longer. Alas, times they are a changin’. The hospital about two blocks down from where I live has expanded significantly, and with it came attendant parking and traffic issues due to the enormous increase in people needing to visit the hospital. In the past few years, it has gotten so bad that the drivers race along my street (they race because everyone in DC is very, very important and busy) or park tightly up against either side of my driveway (so they don’t have to pay for hospital parking) that I can no longer see beyond the cars when pulling onto the road. This has resulted in so many third finger salutes that I have lost count, and enough near collisions that something had to be done or someone was going to be injured.

Suffice it to say, that I have been steadily working on this project by lobbying a variety of Powers That Be for over a year. I made a little progress last year with the installation of the signs, but it didn’t fix the parking or speeding problem. Yesterday, after a hair raising close call of their own, a resident of my household asked me to give it another try. So, I emailed my regular roster, using appropriate superlatives and demanding a constituent meeting, etc. hoping, but unsure, that my efforts would be answered. Lo and behold, not only did I receive an email and three calls back just today, but some wonderful men showed up and installed a speed trap camera right by my driveway! This camera snaps photos of scofflaws and sends them ticket$$$.

I was elated to have managed this! I couldn’t wait to share the news, but when I proudly revealed the results of my efforts, the very first thing this person did was complain! They immediately complained about how the camera was installed and where the parking lines are being reinforced. I couldn’t believe it.  The very person who begged me to make something happen, now expressed dissatisfaction with the results. This response to my efforts deflated me entirely.

Part of me wanted to snap back at them and suggest they take over this project if it was so poorly managed. Part of me wanted to fault myself for things I couldn’t control. Part of me remained stunned that, instead of thanks and celebration, I got criticized. My reactions weighed on my chest and I fumed silently, disappointed that I didn’t get the gratitude and reaction I was expecting.

Has this ever happened to you? Have you made an effort only to have it ill received? How did you handle it?

I’ll tell you what I did. First, I reminded myself to keep my sharp comebacks to myself; snapping back at someone never helps. Second, I reminded myself that sometimes people say things that sound more critical than they intend. Third, I reminded myself that getting this far with City Hall (especially one as unresponsive as Washington, DC) is a significant achievement, even if it isn’t 100% perfect. And fourth, I reminded myself that were it not for this one person’s negative reaction, I’d still be happy about what was accomplished! Therefore, my challenge was to let the criticism go.

I know what I did was a good effort. I was able to enact change that will improve the safety conditions for anyone coming and going from my house. And, further, one person’s criticism should never have that much impact on how I feel. This is the all important after-bounce I refer to in the title of this post.

With determination and perseverance, you can effect change in your life, too! And, perhaps even more importantly, you can learn to handle the seemingly negative reactions of others in a more intelligent manner. An integral part of re-booting, if ever there was one.


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2 Responses to “Fighting City Hall and the After-Bounce”

  1. Julie Crispin Says:

    Way to go, Rett! Be proud of yourself. That camera WILL slow traffic down, and may very well save your neighbor (and you) from a fender bender, or worse.

  2. grasshopper Says:

    how fantastic! Good for you!!!

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