Several months ago, a home building development, near where I live, was finally completed. The street barriers came down and congested traffic proceeded as usual. All was well during daylight hours. However, I mentioned to a friend that I could not see the road lane separations at night, and it seemed to me that drivers were weaving all over the street.
My friend said, “I drive that street every morning, and have no trouble seeing the lines of demarcation.” So, I called my ophthalmologist’s assistant and asked, “Is it time for cataract surgery?” She said, “You were in here two weeks ago and had a complete check-up. Do you think your cataracts have gotten worse in two weeks?” “No,” I replied, “I just can’t see the lines at night on that street.” Of course, the operational words were, “At night,” and, “On that street!” Then I told her, “I’m going to call the County Road Department and tell them to repaint the lines.” She thought that was pretty funny, and hung up saying something like, “Lots of luck with that.”
In the meantime, I called another friend who said, “I’m all over that place on that stretch of road at night, and I’ve HAD cataract surgery.” So, I called the County Road Supervisor. He said, “Are the road barriers still up?” “No,” I replied. “Well,” he said, “The workers weren’t supposed to take the barriers down until the road was re-stripped.” He added, “I just got a notice from my inspector that those lines need to be re-painted” Then he added, “I should put you on the payroll.”
I have had several job offers in my life, but never with the County Road Department. The next day the white lines were repainted on both sides of the street. And, the man in charge of line painting called me to see if I was satisfied with the job. I thought that was extremely nice, but a little unusual.
I learned that before you tackle any problem, first you have to admit that there is one, and happily that the solution in this case didn’t call for surgery---only a few cans of white paint. But, before I could get too pleased with myself for getting such rapid action, an attorney friend informed me; “That was a big liability issue and they probably wanted to avoid a lawsuit.”
No accident. No lawsuit. I still think that’s a pretty good deal.
Esther Blumenfeld (“If I had an hour to save the world, I’d spend 59 minutes defining the problem.”) Albert Einstein