This is typical me. I got heartily sick of walking down my road in the summer under the scorching sun with no shade. So, I wrote a letter to the mayor and sent it off. Basically it went like this:
Dear Monsieur le Maire (I’m not even sure I bothered to find out his name – I figured that with all my complaints about the parking space, my letter would get tossed straight to the nearest trash can) –
I’m writing to you about the part of Bd Calmette that stretches from the Place de l’Europe to the National Music school. It’s a wide avenue, but it has no shade and in the summer it simply bakes under the hot sun. Would it be possible to plant a few trees along it? It would make it cooler, and studies have shown that trees not only help with air pollution, they also lower the temperature because of their shade.
Thank you for your kind attention – (me)
Anyhow… I sent that off months ago and promptly forgot about it. Then the phone rings the other day and I answer it, and I stay online when usually I cut the person off with “No thank you, I’m not interested”, because I get so many phone calls from salespeople. Anyhow, I stay online, and imagine my surprise when it’s the assistant mayor, and he’s calling to make an appointment to meet me on Bd Calmette. So I’m amazed, can’t think why he wants to meet me – (is it that damn parking place again?) No, it’s about the trees – and now I’m estatic and practially babbling, “yes, yes, thank you! Friday, eleven am, perfect, in front of the apartment? Yes, I’ll be there.”
So I figure it’s the mayor, he’ll be on time- so I ask Alexa to remind me a quarter hour before, so I’m not late, and I look at the boulevard every time I go to walk Auguste, planning what to say – and I’m all excited, imagining a lovely line of shade trees along the road…Anyhow. Friday, it’s quarter to eleven, Alexa reminds me, and I get my coat and boots on, and look at my watch. Almost eleven. I’m going to be right on time. The phone rings. It’s the assistant mayor. He and the mayor are downstairs. Waiting for me. I look at my watch. It’s five to eleven. “I’ll be right down. You said eleven. I’m very precise,” I add.
“Oh. Well. We’re here now. We came a little early,” he says.
I bound downstairs, trailing Auguste, and meet the mayor. I took the time to look up his name, so I shake his hand and say, Bonjour Mr le Maire. Mr Cagnet, c’est ça?” The assistant is writing on his notepad as we speak. He takes notes all through the conversation. I make a mental note not to say anything that could be held against me in a court of law.
Well, one point for me. I got his name right. We go to the street and start to discuss Mantes, the schools, my building, then get around to trees, the future train station, the problem of parking (I show the stupid pedestrian crossing/parking space in front of our apartment).
He promises to make the crossing more pedestrain friendly. I push for a speed bump too. His look tells me I may have pushed too far, but I insist, citing the lovely speedbumps along the river. “You’ve done such an amazing job making that side of town beautiful,” I insist. “We on this side of town feel left out. No trees, no pretty sidewalks. And we need doggy poopy bag distributers.” I pull my doggy poopy bag from my pocket and show him.
We discuss trees some more. Where to put them. Why to put them. I explain that now, in winter, it’s not too hot, but in the summer, from May to October – it’s an oven. “A boiling oven,” I insist. He nods. Yes, he will try to work something out with the planners.
I’m torn between optimism and pessimism. He tells me some people don’t like trees. I tell him that you can’t please everyone. He agrees with that. I tell him that most people arrive in our city via the Place de l’Europe by train or car, and that we need to make the entrance to the town more inviting. He agrees, and I start to think we’re going to get somewhere after all. His assistant clears his throat. “We have to go,” says the mayor. I manage to insert some compliments about his work in the town, and he shakes my hand and leaves with a smile. “Goodbye, Mr Cagnet,” I say, smiling back.
I go home, well pleased with myself. I glance at the webpage I opened to the town site. In bold, at the top of the page, is “Mr Le Maire – Mr COGNET”.