Sunday, February 15, 2009
The 411 on 311
You may not be able to tell from this blog, but I am not really a "complainer." As a lifelong New Yorker, my basic philospophy is a secular version of the Serenity Prayer:
Grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
There are a lot of things I accept, so until recently I had no need to contact the NYC Complaint Hotline 311. But I have called three times about three very different things and have always been dealt with courteously. Not only that but the complaints were to varying degrees, actually resolved.
The first time I called 311 it was to tell the powers that be that I didn't think a large print ad for malt liquor was an appropriate thing to be displayed on scaffolding that had gone up around the public school across the street from me (You may want to consult my post about scaffolding!) My complaint was taken and supposedly referred to the DOE (Dept. of Education). I know that the parent coordinator in the school where I teach, to whom complaints about our school are referred, takes them seriously and tries to correct the problems. So I was not surprised when the ad was down the next day.
This emboldened me. The next time I called 311 it was to report that for the third time, trucks delivering construction materials to a hospital building being built across another street from me, had knocked down a huge limb from a street tree. The driver carted away the downed limb and then boldly sat in his truck under the damaged tree. Parking on the other side of the street, by the way, where the street trees are set back further from the curb, would have easily prevented this mishap. Arborcide, or alleged arborcide, I do not accept. This time, my complaint was taken and referred to the Parks Dept. Later that day, I got a call from the Parks Dept. asking me to describe the damage in detail. They were concerned that the limb was a danger to motorists or pedestrians and when I said that it was not I thought that would be the end of it. But two days later, a tree trimming crew arrived to neaten up the damaged tree. Unfortunately, the construction trucks continued to park the same way for the next several months until construction was completed.
The third time I called 311 was to report a broken traffic light at my corner causing traffic moving downtown and crosstown to inch precariously into the intersection and lots of honking. The conversation was very brief because I was the fourth person to call it in and a repair team was already on its way.
You've got to love this city!