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Thread: Have I passed judgment unfairly?

  1. #1
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Have I passed judgment unfairly?

    This thread is intended for folks to gauge public opinion on various instances where they find themselves passing judgment and the Golden Rule seems to fail them.

    Scenario: supposed life long resident of town calls yours truly to report what they believe to be a code violation occurring several doors down the street. Said complainant has lived in this house over 40 years. When questioned which address they believe the violation to be occurring the complainant states they don't know the neighbor's address. Fair enough. When prompted which direction the violation was in relation to the complainant's residence, said complainant responds "to the left of my house". When further prompted to provide a cardinal direction, the complainant cheerfully responds "I have no idea". After yours truly hangs up he says under his breath to himself "freakin' moron", a nearby coworker overhears my muttering and promptly jumps to the defense of the complainant, stating "most people don't ever have occasion to learn cardinal directions." My own feeling is that nearby coworker may be a freakin' moron as well () but before I formally pass judgment, thought I'd run it by the Throbbing Brain...

    do you think it is unreasonable to expect someone (who does not appear to be developmentally disabled) to know which direction north, south, east and west are in relation to one's home they have resided at for over 4 decades?
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  2. #2
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    No, I think you are being fair. Most of us learn cardinal directions in elementary school. I also would have asked them to call back when they have the exact street address.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  3. #3
    Cyburbian AG74683's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by kjel View post
    No, I think you are being fair. Most of us learn cardinal directions in elementary school. I also would have asked them to call back when they have the exact street address.
    We no longer accept complaints that do not include an exact address. That helped get rid of the rubberneckers driving around with nothing better to do than complain about some nonsense.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Rygor's avatar
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    I feel your pain, Maister. I'd have thought the same thing. Still, I do recognize that as planners we do happen to have an above average sense of the lay of the land of which we are "stewards", especially after years of scouring over the most minute details of zoning maps and driving random neighborhood streets picking up illegal ROW signage. But someone who's lived there 4 decades? FOUR DECADES?! They should know better.
    "When life gives you lemons, just say 'No thanks'." - Henry Rollins

  5. #5
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    I am not sure that a lot of people have a concept of the cardinal directions, especially the elderly. Where I live the cardinal directions are easy - we have an area called the North Hills and many of our roads run along section lines. So if someone wasn't sure of the cardinal direction, if I knew their address and was told the violator was a few doors down to the left, I would have an idea of the direction. And if he or she has lived there for 40 years, they might not know the cardinal directiron, but I bet they can tell you who has lived there in the past, what they did for a living and whether they kept up their lawn.

    But if you live in a city without discerible cardinal direction indicators - like mountains or rivers- you might not know for sure. On the other hand I would assume within the 40 years they lived at the location they should have seen the sun rise or set at least once.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

  6. #6
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    As they say, common sense is not that common.

    I, usually, have a large list of known and documented complaints to deal with, so one's like this get the brush off and courteous "have a good day."

    And, no, you have the justified right to your opinion of this person's level of intelligence and/or elementary education.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  7. #7
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by otterpop View post
    I am not sure that a lot of people have a concept of the cardinal directions, especially the elderly. Where I live the cardinal directions are easy - we have an area called the North Hills and many of our roads run along section lines. So if someone wasn't sure of the cardinal direction, if I knew their address and was told the violator was a few doors down to the left, I would have an idea of the direction. And if he or she has lived there for 40 years, they might not know the cardinal directiron, but I bet they can tell you who has lived there in the past, what they did for a living and whether they kept up their lawn.

    But if you live in a city without discerible cardinal direction indicators - like mountains or rivers- you might not know for sure. On the other hand I would assume within the 40 years they lived at the location they should have seen the sun rise or set at least once.
    I probably take complaints from people with no clue of cardinal directions at least once a week (and yes, 98% of our streets are based on straightforward north-south, east-west grids). Maybe it's because I just got off a week of vacation where I got to do what I wanted when I wanted and this happened to be the straw that broke the camel's back. Usually I force myself to go thru the motions of dummy directions..."okay, let's say you're standing in the street facing your house, is it in front, behind, left or right of you?,,," but for whatever reason this particular phone call taxed my patience beyond the point where I felt like exerting myself to do that.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Plus dvdneal's avatar
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    I would normally give a little preference toward the not so bright complaintant, especially since this is coming from a bunch of planners who have north and south down like knowing front and back of their underwear. In this case though, I live in a town full of the not so brilliant and they know north and south in town with no problem. Unless you're on some kind of curve, you should know which way your house faces. Especially after so many years.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    A LOT of people really have no sense of direction and are terrible with basic geography. It still doesn't make their ignorance acceptable though.

    Also, I've found that a lot of residents who call in are intentionally vague because they don't want something to come back and bite them. So, who knows, maybe they really do know which cardinal direction and just didn't want to tell you in an effort to try and hide their identity.

    And as dvdneal says, if they are on a curve or angle, it can make it harder to tell.
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
    -Steven Tyler

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    I think if you used the term "cardinal direction" you might be judging unfairly. I do not expect most people to know what that means. If you asked if the house was east or west or north or south, that is more likely to be understood. If someone doesn't know those terms I have to winder about them.But maybe I'm spoiled since here we all know that the ocean is to the west. With a little cogitiation we can figure out the others, too.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    In some communities, it might be ok to not know the address. In your community, the guy is an idiot.
    If you're not growing, you're dying. - Lou Holtz

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Plus dvdneal's avatar
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    For my community, a lot of people can actually tell me their section township and range. It's kind of nice. They usually don't know the other guys address, but they can give me directors to find it or tell me it's next to the old Maister place by these roads.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  13. #13
    Sorry, I need a vector, Victor.
    Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.
    Abraham Lincoln

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