Tuesday, April 02, 2002

PULFER: How to gripe more effectively

Numbers to call

By Laura Pulfer, lpulfer@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The delivery guy in the elevator that morning said he'd like to get into the game. He pushed the button for his floor an extra time or six. He was wearing brown, but I knew which game he meant.

        By 9 a.m. Monday, downtown was awash with red. Banners. Badges. Hats. Shirts. The customary kids carrying baseball gloves. Although the Opening Day parade wouldn't start until 11:30, radio station personnel, the new city manager, the Cincinnati Police Mounted Patrol, Roger Bacon Band and various other local luminaries were massing at Findlay Market.

        Cincinnati's downtown was a very busy place indeed.


Company coming
               Before the parade, I walked along Walnut Street with David Ginsburg, who picked up trash as we strolled. He says he does this routinely, but this day is surely more important than most. Company is coming to town — fans from Florence and Lima and Cheviot and Dayton and West Chester. Those of us who love the city hope they will like the look of us and come back again.

        Maybe even without a parade.

        Mr. Ginsburg gives me a flier called “You Are the Eyes of Downtown” from Downtown Cincinnati Inc., where he is a vice president. He says he is hoping to put 80,000 people to work for downtown, free of charge, 24 hours a day.

        He doesn't want much, does he?

        “Really,” he says, “it's such a little thing. But it can make a big difference.” The 80,000 people who come downtown to work every day just have to use their eyes and cell phones. If they see something dirty, something broken, something damaged, they can fix it.

        Maybe not personally, although I suppose it would be good exercise to stoop down and pick up the occasional empty cup. Sort of like a squat thrust without having to join a gym or wear Lycra.


An actual human
               DCI's fliers picture a street corner with little tags listing phone numbers to call if, for instance, we see broken pavement (City of Cincinnati, Customer Service Hotline, 591-6000) or a dead tree limb (Urban Forestry, 861-9070) or an overflowing alley Dumpster (DCI, 421-4440, Ext. 108.).

        Most of the problems — from graffiti to sewer odors to leaking fire hydrants — go to the city's 591-6000 hot line number, “where you can get an actual human being 24 hours a day,” according to Diana Frey in Public Services. And they get to work on it right away. Simple matters get fixed within 24 hours.

        It was pretty crowded downtown Monday. If we want all those nice Reds fans to come back again, we have to make sure our city looks as though we are expecting company. It's something any of us can do. Without a committee meeting. Without taking sides. Without much of an investment — even of time. Even if you don't live downtown. Even if you're just stopping by to earn a living.

        I hope the young man delivering packages managed to get into the game. In fact, I hope we all do. As players.

        And you know which game I mean.

       E-mail Laura at lpulfer@enquirer.com or call 768-8393. She can be heard Fridays at noon on WVXU radio (91.7 FM).


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