Column 1: Say what??

Martinez News-Gazette Columnist

SAY WHAT?? Letter from Republic Services, the folks with the big blue trucks which dart about our streets daily, was dated April 2019, so not an April Fool’s Day letter, probably. However, the message it brought to our home, as one of their customers, certainly could have been suspect. A recipient might have done a double take, wondered if it was a typo, was a mistaken message, a spoof, or what. Let’s see:

“Dear Valued Customer: During an audit, we discovered your rate was not properly calculated. Your original rate was $30.83. Your correct rate $30.82. Your correct rate will be on your April invoice with credit for any overage. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause…etc.” What a nice and unusual letter to receive!

The only inconvenience our household is experiencing is having Jeanne scrambling to review and revise our budget to accommodate the new rate. It doesn’t take much variation to throw household spending and accounting awry in seniors’ homes on fixed incomes. In this unusual case, what are the possibilities now that we will have less expense for our monthly garbage collection? What is there that we’ve always wanted to do, but could not really justify spending the money? Headache and inconvenience? Just tough it out.

Silly conversation with myself and my several readers, but not so silly to some ‘valued customers’ who may not have received the letter, found out later in the invoice process that the mistake was made but not reported. You know, that person who just knows that big companies are dishonest and out to cheat them…etc. The litigious-prone person who will cause trouble over anything. Here’s the chance because the garbage guys charge too much to begin with, in their minds.

A friend with whom we mentioned the letter, and we laughed, had a similar letter but with a slightly larger number in a different area of garbage collection. While the litigious idea does seem a fit far out, there have been such ridiculous cases. Remember the lady who spilled a cup of coffee in her lap and sued McDonald’s for a bundle? Oh, well!

A FRIEND GONE! Robert I. Schroder, a civic advocate, official elected to city and county positions over several decades, businessman and family man. A good friend, a ‘chipper’ personality fun to be with, and his perky and active wife, Fran, and a successful son, Rob, Mayor of Martinez for many years. As his obituary has said, he was an advocate for more and better transportation in the East Bay, known as Mr. Transportation for his persistence in achieving better transportation. To add to his many accomplishments, he and Fran were terrific dancers and longtime members and directors of the Diablo Cotillion, a formal dinner-dance group formed in the mid-1950s. Bless both Bob and Fran!

LONG-AWAITED good news for drivers using I-680 south bound is the start of an 11-mile stretch of a express lane from about Marina Vista in Martinez to about Livorna Road south of Walnut Creek. Not so good news is that the project starts now, work will be done day and night, and completion date is May 2020. However, as we have learned from many such projects over the years, do not place bets on that date as being the finish. Those close to I-680 on the west side may wish to purchase some ear plugs?

NEW COURSE announced this week at Kentucky University: “Angry White Men”. Enroll quickly?? How many units? What major?

OUR MOON LANDING is the topic of a newly-released book by noted historian, Douglas Brinkley. Title is “American Moonshot” discussing the JFK push to reach the moon. Timely, as this is the anniversary of our first moon landing. Fifty years ago? Wow!! Goal achieved.

I can recall my wife and I and friends were sitting by a pool at a resort on Kauai when the radio announced the landing, and the first historic words spoken about the step for mankind. Exciting stuff then. Still exciting.

FIRST NAMES seem to be ‘in vogue’ in recent decades in the higher echelons of elected and appointed officials. The most recent appointed official, Attorney General ‘Bill’ Barr. Going back some years, those of us old enough to remember about him would find it hard to refer to FDR as ‘Frankie’ Roosevelt. How about ‘Herbie’ Hoover, or such. Then, all of s sudden we had Jimmie Carter, Bill Clinton, Dick Cheney, There was ‘Jack’ Kennedy, ‘Bobby’ Kennedy, and more. How did that start? Is it demeaning in any way? Affect the stature? How about James Earl Carter, or William Jefferson Clinton? Of course, the current TV story of ‘Tricky Dick’ Nixon certainly is not an enhancing moniker, right?

UGLY is one word to describe the on-going chaos in our nation’s White House as the inept, unqualified occupant who knows all there is to know about everything goes on a ‘firing’ kick of his top agency appointees who have not bowed to his whims and, maybe, said ”no” to his outrageous policy decisions. Perhaps they even just suggested there might be a better way to go? Sorry, King Kong knows best!!

The latest departure was Kjersten Nielsen, Cabinet Member for Homeland Security, who did some bad things down at the Mexican Border, probably on the president’s direction, then made him unhappy.

She is now gone. More unhappy news is that the slimy Stephen Miller, a real creep from early days of this administration, is pretty much calling the shots on immigration and has the leader’s ear on being ‘tougher’ on the poor folks trying to move north for a safer life for themselves and their children. A recent comment of his which was made known was that he would be happy if not one more immigrant stepped foot on U. S. soil. Another wonderful advisor to King Kong!!

Ron Reagan, son of the former President, knew Steve Miller in their high school days in Santa Monica. He was known then for his racist tendencies and outspoken thoughts, Reagan said on TV this week.

CHEERS FOR SPRING as Mother Nature continues to show herself in all the glory of color, nice weather after a bountiful winter of rain, and the hills with their green grasses and trees. All this here in a heavenly setting while, each day on the TV news we see terrible storms in the midwest and east causing misery and destruction. Could we be any luckier?

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