Archive for October, 2007
Usually when you hear the phrase “hope gap” it refers to the gap that exists between those in extreme poverty from the others who live in Third World countries. I believe that we are experiencing our own brand of the hope gap, here in Northeast Ohio. And again, it coincides oftentimes to socioeconomic conditions, just like in the Third World countries, but sometimes I think it is also a manifestation of the dysfunctionality we are experiencing as a society. Major shifts in wealth, economies, and opportunities are occurring each and every day, and cracks and fissures are widening.
Two tragedies here in Cleveland have shown me that this gap is occurring here in Cleveland. The first was the tragedy at SuccessTech where a young man reacted violently to a suspension and possibly an expulsion by shooting others and ending it by killing himself. The governmental answer was to provide metal detectors for heightened security, but very little was said about the circumstances that led the young man to that fateful day. Although the tragedy occurred in a CMSD building, the silence of our school board members was deafening. At the time, I thought to myself, which streets will get metal detectors so that our children will be “safe”. At the time, my husband said that that boy needed someone to take him under his or her wing and hold him very, very close. But for this boy, there was no one. And we are left to wonder what despair and hopelessness led a young boy to such disastrous decisions.
And then, one week later a young girl was stabbed to death by another teenage girl while her mother, grandmother, and cousin held off the crowd who came to help the victim. What a chilling condemnation of where are society is going. A young girl given to her grandmother to raise because her mother was seen as unfit is now a killer. You see, the metal detectors to make our kids safe on the streets haven’t been installed, but luckily the mothers in that neighborhood took it upon themselves to tell their offspring, you will give these people up. Our community is our safety net. There is hope. A group of community leaders joined together to talk about the problems but did more than that–they offered solutions that basically were the “take them under our wing” approach.
Have you ever watched a young child in action? The world holds an endless abundance of possibilities and opportunities, but then the child begins to grow and change and life’s challenges begin to take their toll. Some children thrive because they have the nurturing support system needed to protect them and to guide them through the pitfalls of everyday life. Children learn by example and by imitation so that when the examples are dysfunctional, their learned behavior perpetuates the dysfunctional lifestyle.
Young people are not stupid. They are often very astute. Many kids with unique gifts are often pushed aside, and eventually they drop out of the mainstream because they realize that the industrialized school system will not help them achieve in the 21st century. In our MTB conversation with C.J. Prentiss, she told us that 4th grade achievement scores are used to calculate the future need for prison beds. These kinds of statistical uses for achievement scores should be appalling to a civilized society like ours, but are they?
Back to the child with light dancing in his or her eyes: As that child grows, the light becomes dimmer, and eventually, when the hope gap widens, the light goes out. How many times can we allow those lights to go out before the hope gap becomes so wide that we turn on ourselves and destroy our land of opportunity? How do you intend to lessen “the hope gap” here in Northeast Ohio? Remember, actions, not words, speak volumes.
Yesterday, I took the dogs out and was admiring the beautiful blue sky when my eyes focused on large gray splatters on the roof of our house. I went in and asked Tim to come out and observe what I saw. We both surmised that the mysterious spots could be coming from the construction crew working on the roof next door. Tim had already had a conversation with them about using our hedge as the posts for their construction fence. They couldn’t see the problem with the breakage they had caused when tying construction tape to the branches. Tim by example got a post from the garage, disentangled the fence from our hedge and staked the fence so that it stayed upright without using our property. Something the construction crew appeared incapable of doing.
Tim suggested that this time I should deal with the construction crew. He wasn’t sure that he could remain civil a second time. I wasn’t sure that I could either but agreed that my chances might be better than his. As I walked down our sidewalk, I noticed a three inch gray foam pooling at points on the sidewalk. Obviously, the use of the fire hydrant had somehow caused the pooling of water and somehow concrete dust had congregated in front of our property as well. I noticed that there was a man busily sweeping and scrubbing at the construction site. No one was working on my sidewalk.
When I reached the point where all the guys were congregated, I noticed that this side of my roof was even more speckled than the other side. I then noticed that my ivy, rose of sharon and other bushes were splattered as well. When I pointed out the condition of my property, the construction foreman, I think, told me that I shouldn’t worry about it because it would wash away with the rain. It was “no big deal”. Then another man came over and wanted to know just what was the problem. The man pointed to the roof and the ground, and then the second man said “Hmmm, isn’t that odd we got the roof and the ground but didn’t get the side of the house”. I told him that I thought he should be glad they didn’t get the side of my house.
I thanked them for their assurance about it being “no big deal” but if it did not wash off when it rained who would I contact? He pointed to the name on the truck. I asked for a business card. He said there wasn’t any but he would give me a number to call. He came back with a number but no name. I asked for a name. So another trip, another three minutes of everyone looking at me like I had two heads. Why should it be so unusual that someone would ask for consideration of their property from a construction crew next door? Why did I have to ask? Why hadn’t they come to me when they noticed the splatters and told me exactly what was going on? Why hadn’t they asked if they could use our hedge as the post for their construction fence? Why did they think that it was okay to leave my sidewalk with three inches of concrete foam on it?
Still puzzled at the work ethic of today, I returned to my back yard where I noticed that the sandstone and ivy was splattered there as well. I didn’t even look in the direction of the trellis. I looked toward the building they were working on and down the side were huge concrete splatters on the brick, on the windows, and the stone. Worse than anything on my property. I sure hope that someone at CMHA complains about the quality of the work and that eyesore is taken care of soon.
It rained last night. In fact, it is still raining. The bushes and the sandstone are free from concrete splatter. My roof and trellis are still speckled. Since I am sure that if I call today, they will want me to wait until it stops raining because after all, the rain will wash it all away, I will wait until the rain stops. But then, the sun will come out and bake what is left into the shingles so that it wil be permanent probably, and then I will get the What do you want us to do, lady? As I ponder if I should just let it go or should I pursue it further I remember my dad who worked with concrete most of his life. He would never had left a job looking the way these guys did. Not because he was told to clean it up by someone else, but because he had a pride in his work and a consideration for others that would have never allowed him to Believe his job was done if he hadn’t left the place better than when he had arrived.
Where are we going? And, should we be stopping to assess what is happening as we move along? Why do people who are contracted to do a job not consider the surroundings? Especially, when those surroundings are so close to the work site? Is it the responsibility of the ones asking for the work to be done to make sure that neighbors are not adversely affected? Or should they be able to assume that the contractor will see this as an extension of the contract and make sure that there are no adverse effects? Is it so hard to treat people the way you would want to be treated?
I am sure that every one of those men on that crew yesterday would have felt the same way I did about what had happened if it had been their property that now looked as if it had been speckled by a flock of geese as they flew over on their way home. But, they never put themselves into MY shoes, they simply stayed in their shoes wanting to get done and on to the next job. It was quite evident as they continued to fold their tarps and pick up their tools while talking to me that they simply saw this as an impediment to their progress. How sad that consideration is not a way of life. We have strayed far from the path of “The Golden Rule” which appears in all religions in some form.
UPDATE: The building manager is furious at the company who did the work on the roof next door. It leaks. When he arrived and saw our roof he demanded that they make it right with our neighbors before you fix the leaks and wash our windows and the brick on our building. They have now done what they could to get the concrete mix off of our roof. It remains to be seen what it will look like when it dries, but it is no longer speckled. So, thank you, Mr. White and your maintenance crew for being good neighbors.
Contrary to popular belief, few people would choose to spend their days in the following manner. My friend who is on Medicaid due to a myriad of chronic health problems was thrown into the briar patch once again, and little did I know it but so was I. I agreed to take her to her latest doctor’s appointment. She has been having some issues and she wanted someone with her when she talked to her doctors. There we were waiting patiently fifteen minutes prior to the pick up time of 8 a.m. But then it was 8:05, followed by 8:10 then I saw a bus bound for 480 drive down the street I knew that somewhere somehow traffic was WAY out of whack and we probably wouldn’t be picked up any time soon. I decided that we should hop on the circulator when it came because we still had a chance to make the doctor’s appointment. Now, if I hadn’t been with her this wouldn’t have been an option because of the confusion and disorientation that she was experiencing. Her doctors no longer want her riding the bus alone, hence the pick-up service option. Then, when she told me she had called Columbus yesterday to schedule the pick up for this morning, I KNEW we were not waiting any longer. How did we even know if the message for a pick up had been relayed? I wasn’t even sure she knew where she had called.
But then the car arrived just in time, and we piled her walker and her into the vehicle and off we went. It turned out that not only had my friend called Columbus, but then Columbus had called Toledo and then Toledo had called the driver to pick up my friend at 7:50 a.m. What!?! Oh yeah this is how the Medicaid HMO relays dispatches for pick up. Efficent, no? The driver then told me that he was sorry he was so late but he had been at West 85th and Detroit and there was a back up into the city that had clogged the city streets. He told the dispatcher but she said that was where he was being sent. He said that the day before he had started his day in Westlake at 6:45 a.m. traveled to Warrensville Heights, turned around and head west to Lakewood and then again headed east to Solon. All within one hour. He appreciated that we were not angry with him for being late. I told him that hardly seemed his fault, but he said most people just fuss at the person closest to them. He told me that he works twelve hour days and that the whole day is essentially based on the “just in time” theory that essentially makes everyone he picks up angry before they get in the car. Imagine all of the negative energy that poor man and others like him deal with day in and day out. He got us to the door with minutes to spare.
And then, the saga of the ride back began. I called the number on the card that my friend had to request pick up. The option no longer worked and I was switched to customer service who then quite haughtily told me that i was calling the wrong number. She then rattled it off so fast I had no chance of writing it down or even committing it to memory. I called back and told the next customer service rep I had no way to write anything down could she just transfer me. No, they had been transferring to many people and people needed to get it “right”. If the card I held in my hand, wasn’t “right” just how did she expect that? She transferred me. After waiting another half hour, a vehicle pulled in. My friend says here they are and toddled off to get in the car. Turns out it wasn’t our ride. The lady was just dropping someone off. I asked her if maybe she could be our ride. She said she would have to call in to see–maybe she was supposed to pick us up but they had sent her the dispatch yet. No, she wasn’t but they were going to see if the driver that was sent could be stopped en route and she could take us home. It took another ten minutes but this was accomplished and we finally were dropped off at my friend’s door. Five hours later. Yes, at 1 p.m. we arrived home. The total time spent with two doctors was 45 minutes but the wait for a ride to and from consisted of almost 4 hours.
Now, in the days of GPS does it seem logical that drivers would be on both sides of the county in one hour? Does it seem logical that someone dropping off a patient would not be picking up a patient? One of the drivers suggested that zones would probably work better. Do you think that anyone is listening? And then, remember this is all brought to you by the state run Medicaid system funded by federal dollars. Yes, they have instituted an HMO system which my friend was told she had no choice but to join and now she no longer schedules her own transportation but calls Columbus who calls Toledo who calls Cleveland. Just who has this helped-Medicaid who can now foist complaints and problems with perscriptions, transportation and denial of services onto HMOS, HMOS who have lucrative contracts with the state or my friend who now spends five hours of a day getting to and from her doctors appointments when it used to take her at the most when she called the pick up service directly an hour and a half to two hours and she knew that they would arrive because SHE had made the contact.
And then, when you put universal health care into the mix modeled after the federal Medicaid Plan how can we say that we are improving things? Shouldn’t there be more accountability? Shouldn’t we know where and how these dollars are spent? Transportation is only the tip of the iceberg of this behometh that could truly become the monster who eats our country.
While in Atlanta earlier this month two chance meetings happened that I think are worth sharing. The first happened as I had a conversation in one of those glass enclosed elevators that really gives me claustrophia. Now I know that probably makes no sense to many of you but somehow seeing the expanse of the outside and knowing I am in this teeny tiny enclosure starts the panic. To combat this I usually engage in convesation with any soul who will talk to me. Luckily, there was a lady as talkative as I was and she started the conversation. She asked if I was on a business trip as well. I told her that I was there for an educational seminar. She said that so was she-a nursing seminar. She then related that she told her husband that “business” just did not fit in with her idea of a “trip” which she associated with vacation. How strange is this? It turned out that she was a nurse at MetroHealth in Cleveland. When I told her that I lived by the zoo on Denison, we both laughed at how here we were so far from home and it was the first time we had had a conversation.
The second incident happened at the evening reception held at the Atlanta Aquarium. One of the other attendees told me that she had been listening to the podcasts at Meet The Bloggers. I had told her about the venture last year at the seminar. She is from Northeast Ohio and her daughter dates Joe Marinucci’s son who told her that his dad had sat down with Meet.The.Bloggers. Joe’s interview was the first she listened to, but now she says that she is addicted. She listens to bits and pieces of many of them while at work. Her husband was REALLY interested in that portion of the conversation, but she told him that there was a wealth of information that she is now using because it was educational and informative. I always feel kind of good when I go somewhere and someone unexpectedly tells me that they have listened to Meet The Bloggers.
Tim and I are off on a road trip so we have been very lax about posting. The first leg of our trip was spent at a very good friend’s home in Worthington. It was especially significant because I finally met his mother named Gloria, great name, yes?. She is an intriguing woman with a beautifully radiant glow. Alan is recovering from a very nasty fall off a ladder that could have left us with a massive hole in our lives but luckily he survived and now, he faces months of therapy toward recovery. We are very thankful that we still have our friend and that he opened his home to us for a few days.
The second leg of the trip was spent at our home away from home-Mo and Geri’s lovely home in the wooded hills of South Knoxville. Tim and I are constantly amazed at how this city nestled in the Smokies continues to grow by leaps and bounds. One morning as I enjoyed my cup of coffee and a few chapters of the latest novel I am reading, Maureen walked out onto the screened porch and said, “This is exactly how I always remember Dad and you sitting on my back porch with me drinking coffee reading”. Many people have told Mo and me that we have much in common over the years. These people must be right because one of my favorite memories is also that same scene.
Now, we are in Atlanta with some of our favorite people enjoying the annual FSC National Education and Business Conference. This leg of the trip will deserve its own post or two. We have seen some amazing speakers and we have also learned some new things and have had our faith in America revived.
At times, it has been hard to stay focused in the moment because the next leg of our trip will be our first trip to Savannah to spend time with our daughter Katie and her friend Travis. I have never been to Savannah which will be a treat but we haven’t seen Katie since Christmas and our visit is long overdue. I am so glad that both girls have blogs and that they know how to post photos, something I have not mastered, but intend to do so shortly.
And now, I am off to another workshop.