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Jim's Jottings


A pat on the back, and a question to the car czar



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November 10, 2010 - The subject of this column is a rarity: It's to praise the work of a government agency, the United States Postal Service. I know, I know, we love our local carriers, but criticize the USPS overall for whatever reason.

A few weeks ago, I dropped several letters in a depository outside the Lake Orion Post Office. Two days later I got a call from Jim Fitzgerald asking, "Why are you sending me an empty envelope. It wasn't even sealed?"

I had mailed three pictures of himself and a couple other newspaper types I'd taken at a convention in the 1960s.

The Lake Orion office referred me to the Postal Claims Service in Pontiac. He gave me four phone numbers. My first three calls were to recordings: "I'm not able to answer the phone right now . . ." etc.

The fourth call brought a good ol' hometown flavor: "How may I help you?"

She asked me to describe the photos. I said they are 4x6 prints of a couple men. She asked if they were colored prints, and when I said no, they are black and white, she became even more friendly.

Her voice gave me hope they could be found. I can only imagine how many thousands of pieces of mail go through that Claims Center each day.

But, two days later a Debbie called and we reviewed what I had told the first lady I talked to. Two more days and they were in my mail.

I don't know if the first person I talked to there was also Debbie, but her voice was just as welcoming, just as friendly.

By now a few weeks have passed since that first call and I'm still warm from the experience. It's good to be reminded there are fine, friendly people doing their jobs in our government on a daily basis.

Now, if I can get Fitz to tell me who those other guys are in the pictures with him, it'll be really good.

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Everybody who has driven anywhere has seen the work of an Obama car czar. Through federal mandate flashing yellow lights have been added to the red, yellow and green.

Tom Greenwood, commuting writer for The Detroit News explained them this week. He said red means stop, do not turn; green means proceed, oncoming traffic has stopped; yellow means prepare to stop and flashing yellow means turn once traffic is clear.

So, this is what the car czar and his minions have come up with to make the highways safer?

Well, baby, it ain't working. There's one of these flashing yellow lights a mile from my house. My son and a good friend have both been struck by drivers who, I believe, are confused by the signals.

I suppose the blinking yellow was added to increase traffic flow. I also suppose we'll get used to it. People are telling me they are going out of their way to avoid this confusing array of flashing illumination.

Was the old red, yellow and green lights slowing our overanxious drivers, making them late to cook, to take out the garbage, get to a bar, etc.?

To me it's another attempt by government to fix something that ain't broke.

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Quickies!

Vows made in storms are forgotten in calm.

To keep your secret is wisdom, but to expect others to keep it is folly.

Election day is like Christmas: You wind up with fruitcakes that last a year.

Fleas can be taught nearly anything that a Congressman can. -- Mark Twain.

Jim Sherman, Sr. is president of Sherman Publications, Inc. He has penned "Jim's Jottings" since 1955.
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