By Donna Huffaker Evans
One of the first things you learn as a reporter is to be super nice to the court clerk. To all of the public servants actually, as they hold the keys to the kingdom. Or at least the file that you desperately need to peruse. While it’s easier to smile at someone already smiling, I rather like the challenge of penetrating a wall of grump.
I braced for a gaggle of grumps in Los Angeles city government.
In Burbank, the bureaucrats were smiling before I even approached the window. Odd, I thought, but maybe it was because the city government was a manageable size. In fact it was solely due to Burbank Fire Department’s rapid response time that I chose to stay in the Media City when my 93-year-old Grandma moved in with me. Grandma was awesome, unlike the thieving relatives who attempted to financially bleed her dry. Back in 2002, at the age of 31, very single and a full-time reporter for the Los Angeles Daily Journal, I found myself the caretaker for a nonagenarian in failing health.
So when the police raided the relatives’ house, and arrested them, that left the placement of my ever smiling Grandma to me. I opted for my home rather than the old folks home. But because they’d taken such poor care of her – no exercise of any kind – her leg muscles atrophied to the point that she could not climb the eight steps into my building, let alone the 22 that led to my door.
There I am, explaining to Grandma that the relatives would be going to jail for what they were doing, all the while trying to figure out how to get her out of my 1994 Mustang and into the apartment. Then it hit me: The Burbank Fire Department. How many times had I heard my scanner, years earlier at the Burbank Leader, squawk, “Old woman, trouble breathing,’’ moments before the sirens roared to the victim’s rescue.
In true Mayberry fashion, I asked the BFD if they could carry Grandma into my apartment. Minutes later, an engine arrived with many, many handsome men who hoisted her out of the car and into a stretcher-type chair. Surrounded by six hard-armed firefighters, Grandma blurts, “See, Donna, I can get a man. I can get six of them.’’
Every other encounter I had with a Burbank official after that was equally pleasant. And while I’ve had drinks in the backyard of Burbank Mayor Dave Golonski’s house, I don’t expect to toast Antonio any time soon.
Customer Service Surprise
However I also didn’t expect calling Los Angeles Councilman Jose Huizar’s office would be as pleasant. Sure the residents of Downtown Los Angeles have been warm and welcoming, but what about the bureaucrats?
All of our furniture and worldly possessions had been stored in a POD for several months. Delivering the POD to unload it promised to be tricky, as my loft doesn’t have a driveway, merely a loading zone that I crossed my fingers would be available at 7 a.m. on that Saturday. The real problem, though, was the warning from the PODS people: “If we get a ticket for being parked on the street too long, you pay for it.’’
Well how long was too long?
I could’ve researched it, but I wanted to check out the customer service of my new city’s seemingly bloated bureaucracy. So I called the District 14 council office. I explained the issue and furrowed my brow when the gent on the other end asked for my number so someone could get back to me. My first big city blow off. Awesome.
I hadn’t finished typing the text to my husband, slamming the sloths of Los Angeles government, when the phone rang.
“Hello, Mrs. Evans? This is [so-and-so] from Councilman Huizar’s office. First of all, welcome. I understand you have some concerns about your POD?’’
The official went on to explain as long as it was picked up in a day or so, there would be no problem. Then he told me to have a nice day.
Day? It’s going to be a nice Downtown life.
This article is sponsored by: http://www.LoftLivingLA.com