Headspace

Well, this is my first post of my new blog. I decided to start this one mainly to describe my dayjob, but also to write about whatever else I feel like.

I work as a Zoning Officer in NJ, and I am completely and totally unqualified for this job. I was only able to get it due to pseudo-nepotism. I have been doing it for about a year and and half now, and have learned quite a bit about Muinicipal Land Use Law, as well as local politics and residents. Mainly my job consists of enforcing the local ordinances, which can often lead to ridiculous conversations, some of which will hopefully provide some mild entertainment.

For example, I had issued a notice of violation to an older lady for failing to keep the bushes at the edge of her property maintained, because they were inhibiting her neighbor from replacing a dilapidated fence. After months of waiting for her to appear in court on the exact day she was scheduled, she finally started coming to court. We quickly got to the trial stage. My first trial ever! My evidence consisted of photographs showing the overgrowth, and testimony that I did such and such an inspection on a certain date, and found that the bushes were still in need of maintenance. She would constantly interrupt me with phrases like, “This man is telling LIES!”, in her thick Polish accent. It was pretty ridiculous, as the bushes were obviously overgrown. In the end, the judge found her guilty, and fined her $10 a day for every day the violation continued unabated since I issued my summons. This was 180 days later, making her fine $1,800 for not trimming some bushes. Totally ridiculous.

Which leads me to my other reflection. I have recently finished reading Albert Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays, but felt like I didn’t really take too much away from it. Until a few weeks later, when suddenly my outlook about my life, job, and goals in general went from a grumbling non-commitance to daily enjoyment. Camus’ main point is that life is full of absurdity, and therefore we can only accept this and assimilate our worldview accordingly. I have finally made that assimilation, and friends it now feels like a Golden Age compared to how I felt about life before. I no longer come to work everyday with a muted chip on my shoulder, I just do my job and hope for the best. It has made life much more pleasant for me, and therefore so much easier to deal with on a daily basis. Most of what I deal with on a day to day basis is absurd, although good for the township and the public in the grand scheme.

For another example, I spoke to an irate small business owner recently who complained to me as though I has a personal problem with him in particular, and was using my position of slight power to attack him, whereas the fact of the matter was he was displaying temporary banners without a permit. All the reasons he gave me why he needed to display them didn’t obviate the need for a permit, and some of the other recommendations he made are not something I have any authority to change. He wound up talking to my superior, who told him all the same things that I did, and finally he buckled to complying with the town’s ordinances. I understand his position, but I am not the outlet into which he can dump his theories as to how the township should treat small businesses. I hate big corporations as much as he does, but I do not have the power or authority to stop them from doing what they want, especially not when they can afford legal fees outside the scope of our township. Why is the judicial system in our country set up so that the poor cannot properly defend themselves, and the wealthy can nearly get away with murder? Why should the outcome of someone’s case be almost solely based on the quality of representation they can afford? I don’t know, but thinking about it makes me sick.

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Author: jayholler

A technology lover living in California with my wife and two children.

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