How do you define “your” responsibility

One of the things I’m most proud of this year is something that I did very little to accomplish, and yet it has changed me in a very big way.

This story is about a very sad bench.

This bench sits at a busy  intersection in my neighborhood.  It is next to a bus stop and at a corner where lots of kids cross (with the help of a crossing guard) on school days.

Many people pass by this sad bench every day.

Clearly, this bench not an official bench, it was a hack job that someone (with  skills) assembled to improve the lives of those who had reason to wait at this corner.

I have watched many people use this bench.

After months of watching this bench survive, I had questions.  Why wasn’t there a “real” bench on this corner.  Why didn’t anyone “fix” this very sad bench?  When was someone going to do something about this.

And then I decided, I didn’t want to be someone who just noticed problems, I wanted to help get them resolved.

In June, I contacted the mayor and asked how to go about getting a better bench.  I considered just going to a hardware store and purchasing one, but decided that would probably just get me in trouble  (I imagined the headline, local woman arrested for attempting to leave a bench...).

After a very little bit of research, I concluded that the best route to pursue was the local bus company,  since they  had other benches on the same street, clearly they would be well versed in the logistics of getting a suitable bench.

So I did what I am good at, I sent emails around asking for help.  I got some responses about how people liked my idea, but there were budget cuts blah blah blah.  I was asked to check back later.

So I did.

A few times.

Then, I came home from a family vacation a few weeks back, to find a new bench on the corner.  I find myself very happy every time I drive by this new bench.

I see this bench as a key learning for me.   That when I find myself wondering the why’s about someone and how they should be doing something, I need to adjust my view and ask that question of myself.

The next time I identify something that somebody has to, I plan to pick out a somebody and do.


Update 1/4/09 I had a few people comment to me, wondering what the new bench looked like.  Today I finally got a photo of it for your viewing pleasure (with crossing guard in action).

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