Two Paths

Two events this weekend in my neighborhood showed two completely different facets of life in our country today.

Saturday morning, a little after 7 a.m., we were walking our dog when our newspaper carrier stopped us. He told us that a huge tree had fallen at Vinton and Willett. It hit a house and part of the street was blocked off. We took a detour to see what had happened.

Sure enough, a big tree had crashed onto the top of a three story mansion. Part of the roof was opened and a second floor bedroom or two had been damaged as well. It looked like there would be structural damage to the whole house. Even though there hadn’t been strong winds, the tree had been uprooted. The roots jutted out like electricity wires from the fallen trunk. It was a mess.

But already there were trucks and people from Woodland Tree Service there. They had begun the tremendous task of cutting up the tree and removing it. After lunch we went by again and much progress had been made. The tree limbs had been cut up, a crane was there, as well as more trucks and more workers. The next morning almost all traces of the tree were gone and the roof was covered by tarp, a necessary thing as rain was predicted for later that day.

The other incident also occurred on a walk, this time in the evening. We were walking one street over from ours and noticed a car with its lights on going down the street. Two neighbors on a porch called over to us. They warned us that the car had been slowly cruising up and down the street. They said the house across from them was a crack house whose occupant had been shot in the past week, fortunately not there.

The two men were alarmed and the car returned to cruise again. It was too dark to make out the model or license plate number and we didn’t want to call attention to ourselves. The neighbors said that they had informed the police, but nothing had happened. It is probably too common an occurrence now for the police to watch the goings on. Quite understandably, they were frightened.

It is striking that when the tree disaster happened, the residents called a private company. They came immediately, they came prepared, they were efficient and did the job in a day. Can you imagine how long it would have taken had the government been the responder? First you’d have to wait to reach someone on the phone. Then you’d wait til they could schedule a visit. When they finally did, there would be papers to fill out. Those papers would have to be processed. Probably there would be a check to see if people in unions were hired. Who knows? A holiday like the upcoming president’s day could throw another kink in the machine.

Once work started, it would probably be restrained by breaks, lunch hours and deadlines. Maybe safety concerns would impede it, too. In all likelihood, the house would have flooded and decayed by the time the government fixed it.

Certainly the neighbors depending on local government to help fight crime are not getting a quick and helpful response. They may not get relief until the occupants move or are caught in some other crime. I couldn’t help but think of our Congressional representative Steve Cohen. When he met with President Obama at a Democrat retreat this month, he bragged that he got to ask the first question. And what was that? He wanted the President to end the war on drugs. Brilliant. Don’t expect help to come from him either.

Some of our fellow citizens have a faith in government that is not warranted. It just takes two personal examples in the same day to bring that fact home.

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