I’m embarrassed to admit this, but this letter is way past due. Writing a letter of praise often takes a back seat to the far easier task of writing something in protest or to complain. After all, we humans love to gripe about this thing or another. And why wouldn’t we, especially when there are certain members of the Gulf County BOCC that provide such a content rich environment. It is priceless.
Today, though, I would like to step away from focusing on the shenanigans of the BOCC and take a moment to showcase an experience I had with another public servant, Raymond Rogers. Raymond works for the City of Port St. Joe and he left a measurable impression on me and my wife during a time of need. Let me explain.
It was mid-December 2012 and we blew back into town for a quick weekend. My wife and I were one of Port St. Joe’s newest taxpayers. We had recently bought a little cottage in town that we aptly named The Blown Inn. We couldn’t have been prouder.
With the bride and daughter in tow, we discovered we had no water in the house. The pipes were bone dry. Then I remembered the water main project. The city was upgrading the water lines out by the street. Sure enough, the meter box had been disturbed. I checked to see if they forgot to turn the water back on, but the valve was clearly open. I called the City and within 30 minutes, I had a knock at the door and met Raymond Rogers.
Raymond wasted not a second and spent a considerable amount of time digging deep around the meter to investigate the problem. He discovered and reported that the water line between the meter and the house was severely clogged with dirt and debris. We looked at each other in confusion. That made absolutely no sense, at the time.
Raymond cleared the clog and minutes later reported that the water should be back on. It wasn’t.
Mr. Rogers continued his investigation and discovered the end of the water pipe terminated at a point near the house and was running free underground. The waterline was no longer connected to the house!
Years before the previous owner had replaced the old nasty galvanized water line with PVC pipe, a smart move. That meant only one thing. During the installation of the new water line, someone disconnected the good PVC pipe from my meter box and intentionally reconnected it to the nasty galvanized pipe from decades past. That would explain the clogged pipe. Thank goodness for the clog, otherwise I would have had a huge mess under my house.
It was getting late on that Friday afternoon. I looked at Raymond and said, "Mr. Rogers. I have two women with me here. I got to have water."
Raymond didn’t bat an eye or complain. He said something to the effect of, "Yes, sir. I understand. I’ll get your water back on. This wasn’t your fault."
Because of the lateness of the day, Raymond’s only real option was to tie the house back into the galvanized pipe. It was a stopgap measure that would have to do until such time that I could call and report the fiasco to City Hall. It wasn't the perfect solution, but it was the best he could offer. Water was running again in the house.
I guess in a way this letter sounds as if I’m complaining. The level of ineptness that unfolded during the installation of my new, fresh-water line is nothing short of amazing. How could anyone be so dumb? All I could think was, of all the good people out of work, and these knuckleheads still have a job.
Anyway, as frustrating as it was, it was all made tolerable by the hard work and dedication of Raymond Rogers. He was determined to make it all right.
In the end, Raymond did an exceptional job of getting us through that weekend. More importantly, he cared. And he treated us like we were more than just a couple of out-of-state blow-ins. He made us feel as though we belonged.
I stood in the front yard and shook his hand and thanked him. And as I watched him walk away towards his truck, covered in mud from head to toe, I thought; now there is a real ambassador of the community.
Thank you again, Raymond Rogers.
Port St. Joe