Breakin' up is hard(ish) to do.

Today I got to write a break-up letter to one of our favorite complainers.  I know!  And when I say "I got to", what I mean is that the largest boss requested it from the next largest boss, who requested it from the supervisor, who requested it from the lead, who asked me to do it.  Since I'm at the very bottom of the food chain, I agreed to do it, and when I say, "agreed", what I mean is that I had no other options. 

But once I accepted the assignment, it was actually quite fun.  I know, I haven't been writing about work much lately, mostly because it's tedious, but also because every so often I remember that you're not supposed to blog about work because people who do that get fired and sued and stuff.  And, it's kind of boring.  If I were to write about today, which I wouldn't, I'd describe this scene in the Permit Center:
Me:  Hi, can I help you?

Him, in a super-irritated tone:  Well, I have to come down here because no one ever answers the phone or calls me back.

Me:  Oh!  That's troubling.  Who did you try to reach?

Him:  It doesn't matter.

Me:  Well, I'd like to follow up on it.  [spoken as if I have any control.]

Him:  Well, I didn't call anyone because it's not even worth it.

Me:  Wait, let me get this straight:  are you complaining that no one has called you back, but you haven't called anyone yet?

Him:  Yes.

Me:  You're complaining that no one has returned a call that you didn't make yet?  Do you see how that would be unlikely to happen?

And so on.  So, you see why I can't bear to write about it.  It's like dreaming about doing chores -- first you live through it, then you re-live it when you don't have to.

But at any rate, this is still going on, even though I haven't mentioned it in a while.  And when I say it's still going on, I mean we field dozens of calls and letters about yes, those same cedar trees that were planted in the stream buffer last spring.

The big boss has finally had enough, and asked for a "we're done" letter.  Once I realized that I've written and received these letters before, it was pretty easy.

Dear About to be Ex Citizen,

It's been so great getting to know you visiting your property and trying desperately to work things out together understand your concerns.  You've taught me so many new things really been a good steward and obviously care deeply about the environment. I've really marveled at some aspects of your personality that are unique your dedication to the tiny reach of stream in front of your house.

But alas, we've been over the same issues again and again, and it seems like we aren't able to work them out.  However, it seems as though we've responded to the same complaint a number of times, and we have nothing to add.  It's not you, it's me.  I just don't really have the skill set to be in a healthy relationship with you. The County just doesn't have the resources to keep fielding questions on this same issue, although I understand that it's dear to you.

My therapist agrees that this isn't a healthy connection for either of us.  We've talked to all of the other resource agencies, who agree with our position.

There are many other people in the world, and I hope that we'll both have better success with someone else The County is a million acres in size, and we need to turn our attention toward other pressing issues.  There are many people who will find you charming and delightful in the future.  There are many opportunities for a committed citizen like yourself to be involved in positive ways.  Our lives are short, and we need to make the most of them, and move on gracefully when things aren't working out. As you know, government funding has been declining, and our staff resources are extremely limited; we need to use the remaining resources in the most effective way possible. 

I know this is disappointing to both of us frustrating, but I hope good things for you in the future you will take this opportunity to find another cause to apply your many talents to.  I know there's a temptation to want to discuss things, but at this point, I think a break is best.  Unfortunately, we've given this all of the time and attention that we have.

Fondly Sincerely,
Me The Government

I just changed a few words from letters I've sent and received, and it still seemed okay, so I printed it, knocked on The Great One's door, and handed it to him.

"Here's the break-up letter you wanted."

He looked alarmed.  "What are you talking about?"

"You know.  The letter.  The 'it's over' letter.  Ms Pasta asked me to write it.  Here it is."

He stood there and read it for a minute, and didn't even do that neck cracking thing where he brings his left palm to the right side of his chin and twists the chin to the right, which seems like a good sign.

"Huh.  Good letter.  There's a lot of positive stuff in there.  I wouldn't have put all that in there, or made it so long, but I like it."

"Yeah, I know.  Guys never do."


  1. I am so glad that I don't have your job. I enjoy reading about the people you come across, because it makes my life seem so much easier and less complicated.

  2. Sheesh. When we had our Thing with the county/neighbor, it felt like we were being pushy, but I get the impression we really weren't.

  3. Karen, no, you guys weren't even a blip on the radar. And Laurie, I guess that's good? Right?

  4. I just gotta know: did you really say "guys never do"???

  5. Yes, I did say that. I know. You'd have to know my boss...


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