They say it takes a village to raise an idiot, so I must admit I’m always grateful when our City Fathers and Mothers go out of their way to let me know when the Dunning household has screwed up royally, or conversely, when we deserve a little “attaboy” pat on the back.
The most recent constructive criticism from the city I love arrived by email earlier this week under the heading “Robert, do you know where your water comes from?”
First, no one has ever called me Robert, save for my mom, my junior high school principal and my Catechism teacher, and then only when I was in trouble.
And since I’ve lived in this town nearly as long as the historic WPA Central Park bathrooms, you’d think officialdom might feel comfortable calling me “Bob.” Otherwise, I plan to start calling the mayor “Joseph” and his pro-tem “Daniel” to even the score.
Turns out the city is contacting me to report my “WaterScore.” Why there isn’t a space between “Water” and “Score” is not explained, but my WaterScore was accompanied by a happy face raindrop, so perhaps I’ve done something pleasing to the folks at City Hall.
“Robert, thanks for learning more about your water and ways to use it wisely.”
Hey, water’s like gold in this town. Musn’t squander it unnecessarily.
“Your household uses 198 gallons of water per day.”
Yeah, but that’s only because grandma was visiting from Montana and she likes to take three-hour showers. Twice a day.
Plus it barely rained in November, so the kids couldn’t bathe in the gutter after clogging the drain at the end of the street with leaves from our city-mandated front-yard hackberry tree.
If the rain ever returns and grandma ever leaves, that 198 gallons a day will plunge dramatically.
Of course, this is assuming my WaterScore is like my GolfScore — the lower the better. You never really know if that’s the case, since the city is counting on someone to use a whole bunch of water so we can pay for that fancy new surface water project.
“In the last period, you used 580 more gallons than a water-efficient, two-person home on a similar-sized property in Davis.”
Let’s see, I think I have my bill right here. The “last period,” as it turns out, covered 34 water-use days, which means we used precisely 17.1 gallons a day more than that anonymous water-efficient, two-person home on a similar-sized property. Again, I blame grandma.
Then again, given that we’re a six-person household — seven when grandma’s around — we’re using only 33 gallons a day per person compared to a whopping 90 gallons a day per person in that water-efficient, two-person home. I’m sending grandma to their place next time she wants to take one of her three-hour showers.
So, while the city is scolding me for using a measly 33 gallons a person per day, it’s praising Harold and Henrietta of the two-person household for their heroic conservation efforts. Here’s betting they celebrate their success by buying a new Prius.
Apparently, even at only 33 gallons a person per day, there is room for improvement in our humble household.
Again, the city is here to help, listing five sure-fire ways for the Dunning family to get with the program so they are no longer the object of scorn from friends and neighbors, not to mention receiving condemnatory emails from high governmental officials.
“1) When you’re choosing new plants, choose ones that require a low amount of water.
“2) Water only as needed from November through February.
“3) If it’s raining, turn your irrigation off.
“4) If plants need supplemental water, consider watering by hand.
“5) Send grandma back to Montana.”
— Reach Bob Dunning at firstname.lastname@example.org