The town critic


He comes to most meetings with a laundry list of complaints.

They’re mostly the same ones, month after month.

I see his notebook with big, looping words scrawled across the page; he doesn’t want to forget any of them.

It’s the day after the time change and I fall sleep early these days anyway so it’s hard to stay awake from the very beginning of the meeting. He talks on, words tumbling one after the other, looking for someone to answer him, counter him. Mostly they sit and wait for him to run out.

But he doesn’t see it the way they do. It’s his contribution to the town. He’s trying to help. There are problems in town and council isn’t doing much about it so he’s there to push them, goad them on toward making it a better place.

I know that because once I referred to his comments as a list of complaints in a story, and he didn’t like it. He said so at the next meeting.

“I’m just bringing this to your attention,” he says and “I know you are,” the council president answers. “Is that all? Quickly then.”

It isn’t quickly. He wants to know what’s so important that he has to be rushed and they say time, their time is important.

He isn’t impressed.

And finally he’s done for the night, until next month. (He apologizes when he misses one.)

And I wonder what it’s like to keep a running list of things-that-are-wrong all month.

He seems to enjoy it.

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