I went to a meeting the other night: the parking lot of the church where The OK Chorale rehearses floods and loses a quarter of its parking lot every time it rains. The church got a grant from the city to correct the drainage problem. As a community member representing an organization that uses the lot, I was asked to write a letter to support the project. This was the first meeting since the grant was granted.
A meeting! I’ve been a self-employed sole proprietor since 1983. Do you know how many meetings I typically go to in a year? None. So it was kind of exciting. I took my knitting and everything (http://www.elenalouiserichmond.com/2011/07/how-i-learned-to-knit/). I even made brownies decorated to look like a parking lot. It was a social event for me. It was all fun and games until an octogenarian from the church broke a tooth on one of the candy cars in the brownie parking lot.
Before we all went home, the moderator said we would need to hold a meeting that would be open to the public, not just the steering committee.
I leaned over and whispered to Chris, the unclassifiable but who was president of the church until last month, “Am I on the steering committee?”
“You didn’t know that?”
“Is that what this is, the steering committee?”
“You’re killing me,” she said.
I do think the drainage problem is serious. Though I am often in a leadership, not to say bossy position, in a matter like this one, I am happy to just be an ass in a seat. Besides the lighting is good in that church and I had two inches on this friggin’ sock cuff that I had been knitting and ripping out for days because I couldn’t see it properly.
My friend, Mary-Ellis, who can do a spot on impersonation of the Cowardly Lion singing “When I am king of the forest,” is a civic-minded individual (http://www.elenalouiserichmond.com/2010/11/doin-our-stuff/). She was president of the University Section Club at Berkeley last year. I am guessing that involved a lot of meetings. I would have been able to make dozens of pairs of socks. Either that or have stabbed myself with the needles because the truth is, I am not a good person in a meeting. That’s why I seldom go to meetings; it has nothing to do with being self-employed. Back in the (pre-knitting) 1980’s when I was secretary for the Seattle music teachers’ association, I was the one rapping the table and saying “What agenda item were we discussing?” at the same time that I passed the photos of the president’s grandchildren to my right without looking at them.
I have my own forms of civic-mindedness. For example, I vote. We just got our ballots and voters’ guides here in Seattle. (And by the way, speaking as someone who works at home, I loved going to the polls. I resent having to vote by mail.) I see we are being asked again to vote on that ancient structure, the Alaska Way viaduct.
OK, wait I have European readers. The viaduct is not ancient. It was built in the 1950’s. Seattle itself has only been around since the 1800’s.
The viaduct is a well-traveled, double-decker elevated road that has not been retro-fitted. I know people who refuse to use it because they are convinced it could simply cave in at any time. How many meetings has the viaduct claimed, I wonder? How many times have we voted to tear it down and build it again or build a tunnel or not build a tunnel, or re-route it or make it a monorail or have I left something out?
Oh, I know, I left out the four times we voted to not, repeat, NOT build a sports stadium, and they built it anyway and made us pay for it.
With all the money gone into meetings, plans, proposals, and ballots for the Alaska Way viaduct, by now we could have re-built it and a monorail and a tunnel, fixed the church’s drainage problem and taken care of the dental bill for Charles’s tooth.
Here’s what I would say if I was on the steering committee for the viaduct: we should have one last ballot to vote on one proposal: Do you think we should wait until the viaduct crashes in an earthquake and then fix it? Vote yes or no. Meeting adjourned.
So anyway . . . what was I writing about? I don’t have photos of grandchildren to show you.