Over Easy: New jobs for the Town Meeting ballot

  • Dan Mackie (Courtesy photograph)

For the Valley News
Published: 2/26/2021 9:55:45 PM
Modified: 2/26/2021 9:55:44 PM

It’s been a year under COVID-19 protocols and it feels like two, maybe three. But I received my first vaccine shot a couple of weeks ago and my new best friends, antibodies, should be ready to spring into action if duty calls.

The New Hampshire vaccine sign-up, against all my expectations, went pretty smoothly. On the night when the invite went out for those over 65, I checked my email before going to bed at a shockingly late hour — around 10. Jumpy and mistake-prone as a cat on a computer keyboard, I signed up myself and my wife, Dede.

I got a wonky appointment for my second dose, around eight weeks after the first, but I called 211 a couple days later and a friendly human being straightened it out. Just as upbeat were the National Guardsmen who smiled and gave us shots at the Armory in Lebanon. We couldn’t thank them enough, but we tried.

Let’s hope better days are ahead. So, it happens, is Town Meeting. It’s time to turn our thoughts to local government. A lot of us have neglected it, what with the brutal fiasco in Washington that threatened democracy. It makes road paving seem like small potatoes — until a pothole encounter sends hot coffee toward your lap. Then it’s a hot potato!

I wonder how local government can adjust to the “new normal.” Small towns used to have minor jobs like Hog Reeves or Weigher of Coal, but I think they have mostly faded away. Nobody reeves much anymore, and you’re on your own with all things bituminous.

I noted in the 2019 Hartland Town Report that the Fence Viewer position was vacant. I don’t know if everything’s gone digital, or people demand more excitement in their work. There are certain days when viewing a fence is about all I can handle in terms of productivity.

Still, in 2021 there are new challenges to be met, and new town jobs could help meet them. Any community could use a Netflix Coordinator, since the downside of so many online viewing choices is that you can spend your whole evening deciding what to watch.

Here in Lebanon, I’d welcome a Winter Sidewalk Inspector. Although I appreciate that the city plows the sidewalks, sometimes a quick freeze makes snow and ice on walkways look like something the glaciers dragged in. Some other ideas:

Mask Inspector: There’s been some sloppy mask-wearing hereabouts, particularly by men who can’t keep their mask from slipping below their nose as they talk. Male mask droop is a serious condition. Ask your doctor.

Keeper of Distances: Working in conjunction with the Mask Inspector, the Keeper of Distances would promote wider understanding of what constitutes 3 and 6 feet. Since hitting people with yardsticks is not an option, positive motivation would be used.

Solicitor of Trader Joe’s: Recent online comments suggest that life in the Upper Valley won’t be complete until we entice a Trader Joe’s to grace our local economy. A solicitor would be sure to impress CEO Joe. If only one life is made perfect by Trader Joe’s own Teeny Tiny Avocados, Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups or Mandarin Orange Chicken, the effort will be worth it.

Listserv Liaison: Local listservs offer much rumor, speculation and misinformation about official happenings. Since many people would rather post questions than call town hall for information, a liaison could step into the fray. (This might merit hazardous duty pay.)

Town Know-it-All: There can only be one per community operating in an official capacity. Having too many know-it-alls causes confusion when they work at cross-purposes.

Evaluator of Relationships: Many have had to spend so much time together that even otherwise happy relationships are strained. The Evaluator of Relationships could mediate issues that have become potentially catastrophic, such as chewing too loudly at the dinner table.

Discerner of Blunders: Before individuals — or even institutions — take action, they could lean on the wise counsel of the Discerner of Blunders. Say you’re thinking of filing a civil suit against the kid who cuts across your lawn. The discerner might ask, “How would this look in the newspaper?” Not that I want to discourage juicy news content, but think before you see it in ink.

Explainer of Trends: As the Upper Valley population grows older, many of us need help in understanding how the newest technology works, or what rappers we should be following, if any. If the cities and towns could appoint some savvy 15-year-old to guide us, it would be a great help.

The Explainer could start with elucidating why Trader Joe’s is so key to the pursuit of happiness. He or she could hold court about air fryers and insta-pots — and the wonders of 5G networks.

“Kombucha and You” seminars could be held, or “The complete guide to muting your mic in a Zoom session.” He or she might help residents find better phone plans or program smartwatches. If these aren’t essential services in 2021, I don’t know what is.

Dan Mackie lives in West Lebanon. He can be reached at dan.mackie@yahoo.com.

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