Our Federally mandated 811 – Call Before You Dig program is an excellent idea with one major flaw. Call Before You Dig employees lack good judgement and common sense. While this may seem like a bold, opinionated and condemnatory statement, all you have to do is look around at their graffiti handiwork to see evidence confirming my point. It is like Call Before You Dig employees have to earn low scores on a common sense / intelligence test before being selected for the job.
Normally an applicant needs to earn a high score for most other jobs. Apparently, Call Before You Dig is different. If an applicant demonstrates a testing level between dumb and brain dead, the job is theirs. I am thinking candidates exhibiting pure joy with the very thought of destroying private and public property with their spray paint must earn bonus points on the employment exam. I would not be surprised if applicants with criminal arrest records for spray painting graffiti on churches are given preference in the hiring process.
This is a dream job for former juvenile vandals. They can mark their territory with an unlimited supply of free spray paint.
To prevent you from concluding I am just being theoretical, I wish to share my most recent Call Before You Dig experience.
During a water quality project performed by The City of Lakewood, the city complied with regulations by phoning the Call Before You Dig hotline at 811. I support the city’s compliance because the process protects our utility infrastructure; but most importantly because calling 811 helps to insure personal safety for utility workers, contractors and the public at large.
What I do object to is the Call Before You Dig center sending out The Scarecrow from the movie, The Wizard of Oz. Just like the Scarecrow, the Call Before You Dig employee must have straw for brains. Otherwise why would he drive his heavy Call Before You Dig work van over our 65 year old, brittle, deteriorating concrete curbing, possibly crushing our sprinkler system and then finally landing on our lawn? The tire damaged to our lawn created two depressed areas in the turf that required landscape repair. One hole is the size of a kids bowling ball; 12” deep.
The Scarecrow’s next display of bad judgement was to paint our green community garden hose the color red. While it is easy to argue the damage to our hose is inconsequential, I wonder what reaction the owner of the Call Before You Dig company would have had I painted the side of his van? He could have me arrested because damaging property with spray paint constitutes the crime of vandalism.
I have a training tip for the Scarecrow. Move the hose before you paint your markings.
Before I finish, let me publicly register my complaint about the spray paint on the yellow rubber sidewalk rumble-bumpy safety strip. We have to live with that for what seems like forever.