Thursday, January 3, 2013

One Small Victory

I have twice now written to my senators and my representative to ask them to go to work and do their jobs.  Even if they make choices and pass legislation I don't agree with, I'd feel better about it if they worked more than two days a week - I'm thinking more like 24x7 if there's a crisis and a deadline. 

The first round of emails was responded to with form letters that didn't quite address what I wrote in my emails.  (I promise I will share - one was kind of hilarious.)  The next round of emails prompted one 'I'll get back to you about that later' email and nothing from the others.  Apparently they are still on holiday.  Unfortunately, I don't think they were among the ones that were replaced.

Despite my failure to get Congress to see my point of view, I was able to bring about a real change where I live - nothing that any of you will feel, but something important to me.  Two additional handicapped parking spots are going to be added to two public schools in my area. 

During three parent events at my son's school this school year, there weren't enough handicapped parking spaces for people that needed them.  There is at least one child in the school that is in a wheelchair permanently and another that has a sibling in a wheelchair.  Another parent's legs have been amputated, and there's me.  My troubles are minor compared to theirs, but it really would help if I didn't have to walk so far to get to the front door.

There's only a tiny parking lot near the entrance to the school.  The additional parking is at each end of the school.  When every step hurts, that many steps are too many. 

The next time I stopped into the school after that first parent meeting, I mentioned it to the office staff.  I told them about the guy with no legs that had to wheel himself to and from the far end of the parking lot just so he could attend a 6th grade camp meeting for his child. I told them they needed at least two more spots. 

They told me I would need to talk to someone else but couldn't give me a name or number.  They said that wasn't something they could do anything about...maybe I could submit a work order via the school's web site. They wished me luck.

You might be wondering the same thing I was:  Couldn't the office staff person fill out that form right there since she was sitting right in front of the computer?  Couldn't she call that department since she was three inches from the phone?  Yes, she could. 

I could feel my blood pressure going up and my face turning red. I tend to make a scene (or just cry) in that state of mind.  I'm sort of like the Hulk - you wouldn't like me when I'm angry.  So I walked away, hoping not to embarrass my son who had just walked into the office.  I hoped they would come to their senses and take care of it. 

But at the next parent event, the same thing happened.  For the record, I did take a far, far away parking spot.  And so did at least two families with people using wheelchairs.  We all smiled and tried to act like it wasn't ridiculous.

After the same thing happened yet again on the last day of school before winter break, I said, 'Enough,' quietly and to myself and searched the school's website.  I didn't find the department, but I found a work order form.  I filled it out and told them exactly what was needed and where.  And I expressed my anger and frustration that the school staff refused to put in the request.

Today I got an email from the director of whatever department paints lines on the parking lots.  Apparently his name is Steve.  Steve agreed to add two more parking spots for two schools in the district right away.  He apologized and promised to make sure each school's administrative staff knows it was in fact their job.  Not mine.

Today the disabled in my little part of the world are victorious!  Hurray!


  1. Congratulations! You have made a difference.

  2. Hurrah for you for not letting it go and speaking up and out until something good happened.

  3. Way to go! In my day job I tend to be a jack-of-all-trades. I only have my job because people in other departments (some internal, some with our customers) refuse to take any ownership of tasks that fall even a teeny bit outside their job description. It can be very frustrating.

  4. Hooray! It's sad it takes so much effort to make these bureaucratic machines get things done.

  5. Good job, Tonya. The parking spaces might have been neglected until an audit.

    I've spent time in my day job educating people about customer service. If you work in a business, your job is to make sure to get the issue to the right person. And that it's resolved by the other person. Period.

  6. YAY! Good for you!
    I am lucky that the secretarial staff in my school is comprised of the nicest, most helpful people in the whole building. Really. They are nicer than I am.

    Confession: I can be cranky. ;)

    I have worked plenty of places where I've been afraid of the secretaries, though. Actually -- same building, different staff, about six years ago ...

  7. That is cool! Good for you.

    Hugs and chocolate,

  8. That is awesome!

  9. That's a huge victory! Thank you for fighting.

  10. Sincere kudos to you, a true victory :)