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Update…

Well, it's a grey and rainy day outside today which really makes me long for a fireplace, a cup of Earl Grey, and a good book… I have the good book, so I suppose one out of three isn't bad.

Yesterday morning turned out to be kind of interesting in a back woods Virginia kind of way… I had to run down to old-town Fredericksburg to get the utilities switched into my name and this required going to the town hall…

I walk though the doors of this building which has been shot at with cannons during the Civil War and am presented with three choices. On my left is the County Assessor and Notary window, on my right is the City Treasurer window, and between them is a dark hallway leading deep into the bowels of the building. Well, as neither of the two windows say anything about public works I decide to spelunk my way into the innards of the FBerg political machine.

I follow this tunnel along while admiring the rustic “been here since the US was founded” bulletin board which is festooned with hundreds of random notes including a missing horse note and several people selling some random rust bucket. I press on past the wrought iron pull down grate for the elevator which may very well still be mule powered and finally encounter a wooden door with a piece of paper taped to it; “Public Works”.

I enter the closet like space which ends in a half-round teller-style window and explain to the very nice lady why I'm there. She's much like a happy grandmother and I find myself yes-mam'ing her and expecting a tray of tollhouse cookies any time now.

She takes my information and actually types it all up into a form which she puts into an actual file cabinet back there in her office, then types up another sheet of paper and hands it to me with instructions to go see the Treasurer out front. Yes, I said types… And not a computer either. We're talking IBM Selectric here.

After the nicest “Have a nice day Mr. Miller” that I've ever gotten I return to the surface and stop by the Treasurer's window… The same lady greets me there and due to the look of surprise on my face she explains that the Public Works department is new and that it used to be a function of the City Treasurer's Office, and that they haven't really gotten it all sorted out yet. The big problem is that the Treasurer is allowed to handle money while the Public Works folks aren't, so she has to send people from one desk to another… Ok.

Anyways I pay my $60 filing and meter fee and she types up another form which goes into another big wooden filing cabinet, then, after making some accountant shorthand in this huge book, types up a receipt for the money which she hands me.

Small town? Not really… We have everything from Best Buy and Circuit City to Chipotle and Crutchfield's here. There are no less than five Chik-Fil-A's here and about a dozen McDonald's stores… A Super Target and a Super Wal-Mart too…

I guess it's just a case of “it's not broken so why fix it?” and they are still using the same system they used when the town was a battle field.