Sunday, October 11, 2009

I have the easiest job in the world

I occasionally get asked how I find the time to report all this graffiti and pot holes and broken signs and downed power lines and fallen trees and abandoned cars and piles of rubbish etc etc.

Easy - it doesn't take much time at all! I don't spend my days roaming the streets like some sad person with nothing to do. I spot this stuff during the course of my normal routines - going to the shops, taking the kids somewhere, going to work, visiting friends and so on.

If heavy rains have opened up a large pot hole on the main street through Drummoyne, and I go crashing through it in my car whilst driving up to the supermarket, then I don't just ignore it. When I am stopped at a red light, or I've reached my destination, then I'll scribble a quick note on the sticky pad that I keep in the car, noting the problem and location. After I get home, it only takes a minute or two to go to the appropriate website and report the pot hole.

It isn't that hard! I'm not the poor sod that has to go out there in the rain and shovel tar into the hole, or the bloke that has to clean away the graffiti or fix the street signs or trim the fallen trees or tow the abandoned cars away. I'm sitting in front of my computer, warm and comfortable whilst other people do all the hard work of actually fixing the problems. Reporting them is a breeze.

If you can read the paper online, or order a book, or search for and find a cinema where a particular movie is playing, then you have the skills to find out how to report things that you might see. If you see say a bank building with graffiti on it, it's pretty easy to find the website of that bank and to lookup the "contact us" page and find out how to report the graffiti.

Apart from a pen and pad of sticky notes, the other tools of my trade are a compact digital camera and my mobile phone. I do a lot of walking, and I always have the phone with me - and it has a camera built into it. The quality is not that good, but it's sufficient for me to photograph a problem, such as a vandalised RTA cabinet, and clear enough for me to make out the asset tag. I always take a photo of the street signs at the nearest intersection, so I have a memory jogger of where the problem is located. Once a week or so, I upload the photos to my PC, sift through them and log a batch of reports. I might have to refer to Google Maps to nail down the location, but the photos usually do the trick.

How hard is that? If you walk for exercise, or have a dog that needs walking, then all you have to do is make this promise to yourself - "I am not going to walk past that mess for the 50th time this year and do nothing about it. I am going to photograph it, go home and report it."

That's it. A few minutes out of your day. Depending on what the mess is, and who you are reporting it to, you should get the pleasure of walking past it in the near future and seeing that the mess is no longer there. You can then think, "I did that", and you'll find that you walk with a spring in your step from that point on.

Try it. You might like it.

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