Why do our tax dollars have to go to so many reactive and negative agencies and services to the exclusion of anything proactive and positive? It’s such a downer to pay for people whose job it is to hide behind brush and catch you speeding. Why doesn’t someone drive by and give you a thumbs up when you’re driving nicely? If you call an arm of the government it is usually to complain or ask for help with something annoying. Hey, I think I’ve been poisoned. My house is on fire. Some kids are peeing on my rose bushes again. My grandmother drove into the pothole and hasn’t been seen in three days. So much negativity. The government shows up after something bad has happened. We have numbers to call when it’s already too late to prevent the bad thing from happening. Sure, it’s nice to have official scolders and arresters on hand when you need them. I’m not saying we should abolish what we have. I just want balance. Here’s what I’m thinking:
511: Call this number when you want to share some great accomplishment or interesting thought you had. “Hi 511. Earlier today, I dropped a glass, but I caught it before it hit the ground.” “511? I was sitting on the porch today and a couple kids walked by. Later I realized one of them was the son of a person I went to high school with. Boy, I haven’t thought about Bob in years.” Sharing these important life moments makes them more meaningful. We don’t always have someone to share these things with, so we can feel lonely and isolated. 511 to the rescue!
711: You don’t call this number. It calls you to see how you’re doing. The operator asks about your difficulties at work and shows understanding about life’s ennui. “Yes, Martha, I understand how getting up every morning to shower and get around for work can make you feel like you’re stuck in Groundhog Day. It sucks. I see why you wonder if life has any meaning or purpose.”
Party Patrol: I’m not talking about the people who approach you on Bourbon Street trying to give you fake tickets for not partying hard enough and then make a sales pitch for some lame coupon book. I want authentic party patrols with no profit motive at all–public servants. You’re walking down the street and the Party Patrol officer offers you a shot. He’s got a cool dispenser on his back like Duff Man. “Hello, citizen, I just wanted to ensure that your party needs are met,” he says. It doesn’t just have to be alcohol related, though I’m all for that. The officer can hand out snacks and offer to play a game of bags with you as well. Instead of hearing sirens and looking through your curtains to see who is arrested or whose house is burning, you’ll hear sirens and race outside to join the party. When they see a party, they’ll join in and make it even better. “Excuse me sir, but your party sounds too quiet. Let me set up this amp for you so you can’t sing at the top of your lungs without embarrassment.”
City Complimenters: There are people who regularly get compliments, and then there are the rest of us. These public servants would ensure we all get our fair share. A chicken in every pot, a kind word on every corner. An older couple sits quietly eating lunch. They have gussied themselves up, as they would say, for the occasion. The city complimenter takes note and says to the couple, “my you’re both looking spiffy today.” A child wobbles down the street on a bike. “Way to ride that bike,” the CC says.
Assurance Police: This group would follow the CCs and assure people that the compliments were genuine. People who don’t hear nice things very often are suspicious.
Street corner change givers: Instead of just paying taxes–that’s just money–those who have had good years will be assigned duty in metro areas during the day where they will sit behind cardboard signs giving out money. “Up on my luck. Will you take a little change?” “I’ve got too much food. Want some?” “I’m not disabled. Can I help you?”
Prize Patrol: If there’s a fine for doing it wrong, there should be a reward for doing it right. Mobilize a civic prize patrol with oversized checks and balloons (or at least a check) to reward those who do something right–or righter than right. “You parked so well, here’s $84!” “Your lawn maintenance raised property values in your neighborhood. Please pose with this check for $500!”
The above has no connection to any political party. They don’t deserve to be called a party. My patrol will take care of that.