Berkeley: Your Absolutely Free Advice of the Week

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For those seeking random, sometimes helpful and often stern advice from anonymous strangers, a stroll through Berkeley rarely disappoints. On a walk back from downtown to our manse in the North Berkeley flatlands yesterday, I encountered a detailed sign posted on one resident’s fence advising those who park at the curb that they face fines if they don’t have the appropriate residential sticker. That could certainly be interpreted as helpful information (as well as a warning to out-of-neighborhood interlopers to keep moving).

A few blocks farther on, I found the sheet printed above inserted into several waste and recycling bins that someone had left along the sidewalk. The advisory: It’s against the law to leave your garbage cans in the public way. For its officiousness and snide tone — “thank you for helping keep the neighborhood tidy and attractive” — it’s one of my all-time favorite pieces of posted advice.

There are all sorts of things this makes me wonder. There are all sorts of irritants introduced into our daily lives by dint of living in society, and yeah, part of me really understands being bothered by something as trivial as this (ask me how I feel about parking in our neighborhood and I can come up with a long list of grievances that I’ve decided I need to get over in the interest of my mental health). This note makes me curious about how long this particular complaint has festered before being committed to paper, how much research into the city code was undertaken, and about what sort of relationship the writer has with neighbors that she or he can’t address this subject in person.

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