To the Editor:
A Stone Harbor Zoning Board meeting is the last place in the world I want to go to. I agreed to go to this particular zoning meeting for a friend who needed me to speak on his behalf.
The meeting was called to order at 6 p.m. and I quickly saw that my friend’s variance was second on the docket this night. Not good, but I hoped for the best. Maybe it would go quickly. I had put six quarters in the parking meter, so I was okay until 7:30 p.m. and surely, we would be finished by then.
The lawyer and the team for the first petitioner started speaking English, but soon lapsed into a language that was gibberish to my ears. My mind was going fuzzy. I tried counting the tiles on the ceiling, but when I got beyond 20, I would miscount and have to start over. Tick tock, tick tock, the clock slowed to a geriatric crawl.
Were they never going to finish? I snuck out of the meeting and put four more quarters in the meter by my car and hoped that would be enough.
Our turn was a little better, as I knew the concept of the case and I was able to speak for a minute. I told myself that it was alright to leave as soon as I spoke, but then an unexpected change came over me. I got curious. I wanted to know if my friend would get his variance. People spoke on both sides of the issue, live and on Zoom. I was surprised that all were compelling.
During the last 10 minutes, suddenly the fog in my brain cleared and I got a glimpse of the heroes of the day. The members of the Zoning Board, after all that tedious testimony, rehashed the case with concern in their voices.
I forgot my impatience as I listened to what I saw as good people argue a difficult case. I got the very real feeling that they were trying to find the right decision.
My guy won his variance and that was nice, but what really impressed me was the commitment of these ordinary citizens to do what was right. They had to be as tired as I was, and I’m sure they wanted to just go home and have a drink, but they stayed and discussed and patiently worked towards a split decision.
Some people will object to the word “hero” because there is no burning building or bullets flying. I don’t use that word lightly. In a long-ago war, I personally got to see heroic young men face fire and risk their lives to complete a mission or save a friend. Too many died.
Now, as I sat there my admiration grew. Our modern-day heroes are a special breed of people who can stare down boredom, shrug off tedium, and step over monotony to get the job done. Their names are Cahill, Gensemer, Jones, Laughlin, Lide, McAllister, Parzych, and Caracciolo. Heroes without adrenaline.
Stand and applaud the thousands of people throughout this country who tolerate the tedium to do what is needed, what is right.