Monday, April 27, 2009

Perplexing Conversations

I held the door at the local brewery as the young whippersnapper clerk helped an elderly gentlemen out with his purchases.

"Thanks," called the whippersnapper, "Your party is in the back!"

Um, what?

I grabbed my six of Pynchon's favorite dark ale, and stood at the cash to wait for the whippersnapper to return.

"Oh, sorry," he said, "I thought you were here for the party."

"What party?"

"Um, all the real estate agents, they've got the bar today, I thought that's what you were here for."

"Do I look like a real estate agent to you?"

"Sorta." He shrugged and pushed the six pack over towards me with my credit card receipt. Conversation over.



I've been researching the local zoning maps, because, as you all know, we live in the historic uptown district of our small city, and so it's a mash of commercial properties, residential neighbourhoods, and industry (eg, the aforementioned brewery).

I write to the city help desk because the codes are inscrutable, and the legend doesn't really help: "I-25, GR-2a, C4-12" says the map. The legend offers, "Industrial 25, General Residential 2a, and Commercial 4-12." I ask for clarification.

"Hi!" writes the hapless clerk, "I-25 means industrial 25, and GR means general residential."

I write back politely to note that I sorta got that information from the legend, and I'm confused about what the numbers mean. Can she explain?

"Sure thing," she writes. "The numbers reference the different kinds of use that are permitted."

BUT WHICH ONES????? I've just given up, because I'm embarrassed to point out to her that she is being remarkably obtuse.



Omaha Mama said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Omaha Mama said...

Sometimes I wonder if I've got a deficit in receptive language because I'll be having a conversation with someone and realize I've got no idea what they are talking about or why we are talking about it.
I don't see the real estate agent thing, by the way

hoppytoddle said...

Mimi, ya know I'm crazy Urban Planner lady, right? Many municipalities have their zoning ordinances online. If you email me the municipality & the zone you are writing to research I can try to help you. Shucks, maybe I'd even speak to you over the phone. You can check yourself on or maybe the city's website, but I'd be happy to help you.

& planners? We completely get mistaken for realtors, too.

Kyla said...

You should have gone to the party. Free booze. ;)

alejna said...

This is why it's sometimes best not to communicate with the outside world. Except for bloggers, of course.

But Kyla has a point. Free booze! (Though that can also lead to perplexing conversations.)

Cloud said...

That second story epitomizes why I have the following saying: "stupid people need jobs, too." All those people who failed the reading comprehension portion of their college entrance exams need somewhere to work, right?

Magpie said...

That sounds a little like the person from the IRS that I had to speak to yesterday.

Mandy said...

Ah bureaucracy in a small town.

I love going to home showings where the house is advertised as being in an area zoned for Z398 (or whatever). I wish they'd just say, "Light commercial" or "Railway tracks coming through" instead!

ML said...

Obtuse whippersnappers & codgers should all be flogged by us, their superiors!!! Do not back down! You have nothing to be embarrassed about. Force that dimwit to decode her damn self and communicate - I'm sure she'll put it on her resume...Sorry, bit of a pet peeve for me!

No Mother Earth said...

I loathe obtuse emails. What is with customer service these days?? Is it truly dead???