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July 16 • 08:45 AM
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The tyranny of entitlement


July 03, 2019
How poor are they that have not patience! What wound did ever heal but by degrees?

—William Shakespeare, Othello

A suburbanite, I fell in love with Lakeville at first sight. The quaint community with curvy, tree-lined gravel roads called my name.

After moving ten times since we married in 1970, my husband and I found our new home in 1987 on a former sheep farm planted in alfalfa. There, we broke ground and built our little house.

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The weekend after we moved in, two women stood on our front porch. One held a beautiful layer cake with "Welcome" scribed in blue icing.

"Hello!" the brunette said and turned west. "I'm Liz, your first neighbor that way, in the ranch."

"And I'm Paula, your second neighbor that way," the blonde said. "We baked this cake for your family."

"Thank you! Won't you please come in?" I asked.

"Oh no," said Liz. "We'll get better acquainted some other time."

And we did.

I admired Liz for successfully petitioning the Oakland County Road Commission to designate our lane a Natural Beauty Road. This protects native vegetation within road rights of way. And I adored Paula's two little girls who my two teenage daughters babysat.

Several years later, Liz and Paula moved away with their families. I was on my own to learn the ropes of living on a dirt road that collapses into cavernous potholes come March and ruts like a washboard in summer.

"Love it or leave it," locals said.

So I embraced my muddy car and our road's idiosyncrasies. I hailed the man who drove the grader and thanked him.

"I've done this route for thirty years," he'd say. "All these roads were once cow paths, you know. They're not engineered and will always wash out."

In the midst of another March, a neighbor called and insisted I call the Road Commission.

"We pay taxes. Demand they repair our road. We're entitled."

I declined.

After my favorite grader retired from the Road Commission, another filled his shoes. He didn't stop when I hailed him. Neither did the guy who replaced him. I envisioned a photo with a red line through my face tacked to a bulletin board in the Road Commission's office.

This May, the perennial problem of rainfall eroding the entrance of our driveway pushed me over the edge. After an estimate to install a culvert that would sacrifice our ancient oak, I called Addison Township and Oakland Country Road Commission staff for consultation.

Soon, a burly young man showed up on our porch wearing a caution vest with a gold chain and cross around his neck. He smiled big.

"You must be from the Road Commission," I said.

After an apology and explanation of his department's workload, he assessed the problem and determined the fix. By day's end, three loads of crushed asphalt laid prepared to direct rainfall from our driveway.

Dear Reader, now we wait for rain. Patience annulled the tyranny of entitlement. Grace and mercy grant reason and understanding.

How I'd love to see my old neighbors again.

Email Iris at irisleeu@sbcglobal.net.

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