In my ongoing struggle to get my crumbling porch rebuilt, which pits me against the local authorities’ series of bureaucratic hoops, I succeeded in submitting an application to the Board of Zoning Appeals — which reviews all proposals for construction closer to the sidewalk than twenty-one feet. The current porch – with steps, which you kind of have to have — stands in exactly the same place relative to the sidewalk as the porch I want to build, since the house went up in 1948 before everyone went crazy.
The very nice lady who took the very large check required with my application — it was only the fourth try — said everything was in order but I might want to check with the Building Codes people so that I would know none of their requirements for soundness and dimension of structure conflicted with the proposal I was submitting to the zoning people. Otherwise I might have to write another very large check.
My first try along these lines led me to a young woman who could plausibly have been my granddaughter had she not clearly been born in some Middle Eastern country and, since arriving on these shores, attained only an indifferent mastery of the English language. I am all for diversity but I really do resent large ticket items being made to depend on the assistance of people with whom I cannot communicate.
She kind of told me to eff off. Politely, but she did.
I tried the phone tree for the building codes office. It dumped me back into the voice mail of Commode Guy. This is the person who went into a reverie over the possibility of installing a commode on my desired front porch, given the revised building code’s regulations on privacy, or lack thereof. I reminded him of this amusing interchange when I followed up on e-mail.
Strangely, he returned my call with alacrity and zest. “If you’re really modern with a computer and can send me the construction drawings I can tell you if they meet code,” he said. I did.
This morning I sieved my inbox to find that he had rendered a precis, at seven-thirty AM on a Sunday, noting the basic acceptabiliy of the drawings and the details required from the builder. I personally have never done anything work related at seven-thirty on a Sunday. Was it the lavatory humor? The orange background in my blind lady’s 24-point-type e-mail?
I don’t really care. I just love you, Commode Guy.