Monday, July 28, 2008

Good Morning, Mr. Dutton, and Good Night, Moon

I've gone back to bad old habits in terms of returning to a routine when it comes to driving to work. I've mentioned that there are four or more ways I can go to work (and a lot more if I don't mind getting lost and never getting there at all, which, some days is actually a better alternative than the showing up and working portion of the program. Even my boss says so).

In recent weeks, I'm driven through downtown Norwich which is a lot of completely empty and unoccupied buildings in various states of repair, all, or practically all, with signs telling anyone with literacy skills 'For Lease, Call ...' Except for the guy with the Flatiron Building who has three very cool street-side windows, linked but facing in three different directions.

In the first of them (far left as you head towards the harbor--another quaint piece of shorthand, btw) is "860" (the area code for this Connecticut. Not to be confused with the part of the state where Buffy and Amanda and their polo ponies live with their stockbroker parents in Fairfield County, which is 203. Their nanny and gardener have 860 area codes, not them).

The middle window has "889" (a local prefix and the third window--well, the sign in that window with the last four digits has fallen down, so even if you wanted to rent office space (and I have to resist a powerful urge some mornings, when I drive through downtown (it's a target rich environment, let me tell you), to NOT rent office space. Look how much time I'd save on the drive--I'm there already!), it will not happen. I'm amazed we haven't had some municipal or state agency offer to form a task force to develop a solution. We'd have to study the issue, because we do that a lot in Norwich and just before analysis becomes paralysis, we'd have to change out one or more of those involved in the study and start again. We have lots of practice at this around here and do it as naturally as breathing.

Anyway, beyond the perpetually for lease space signage, beyond the not exactly a miniature golf course anymore next to the boat launch which is part of the Harold Brown park which is next to a law office whose back windows overlook the harbor near the Laurel Hill Bridge and the P & W railroad tracks, all of which are just around the bend from the junkyard that no one likes anymore, but liked just fine for many years and so much that at one time we elected the fellow who owns it as President of the City Council, so go figure, there's a parking lot with Jersey barriers and name tags for the law offices on the far side of the intersection with the bridge.

There are metal name tags on each of the Jersey barriers, for those who work at the law firm, to include a name tag for one of the partners, a man who was active in local Norwich politics for decades, who died a number of years ago. Having been raised a Catholic (meaning I have little trouble believing in things I cannot see) I'm not especially surprised Milt still has a parking space.

I passed his Mercedes and, in his later years, his BMW every day for years and attempted to work with him on more than community project (he could project so loudly when he spoke that when he yelled, he could bruise your ribs. He seemed to like me though I never understood why, always calling me 'my young friend' leading me to conclude he had NO friends and his eyesight was terrible because he thought I was someone else) and he was such a force of nature that if anyone could still need a reserved parking space after passing, it would be Milt J.

Alongside of Milt's spot always occupied by a green four door Chrysler, the body style when they came up with 'cab forward' and everyone was convinced it was the next big thing, is Mr. Dutton. His stamina, persistence, resilience, dedication rival that of my brother Adam, whose work ethic makes everyone else on earth (except Mr. Dutton) seem like a slacker, is beyond my comprehension, but NOT appreciation. I've gone past that lot at 4 AM, and Duttton's car is there-at eleven PM on the same day, and the Iron Man's chariot awaits him (her?) without complaint. There are few constants in the universe, and fewer still that bear the mark of Mopar, and yet, here is one. How could I change my route to work? What would Dutton say?
-bill kenny

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