I am suddenly an Ascended Insider of “The Valley,” after only three and one-half years of peaceably aspiring to no such thing.
The usual hallmarks of Valley insiders are non-standard grammar, and knowing that the name by which another VI is known is really his middle name. Outsiders might never learn a VI’s first name until they see his obituary, but outsiders are less inclined to read obituaries, so this sacred cache of first names goes largely unruffled. I don’t read the local paper, much less the obituaries, so I always believed I was safely ensconced in my invisibility.
And, in fact, my invisibility probably remains intact, though I experienced a moment of .925% terror when I received an email this morning from The Street Maintenance Division of the City of Lewiston Public Works Department. I am on a list-serv that could only interest insiders, but I have to say that it was a proud micro-moment when I saw that subject line:
New Newsflash 2014 Designated Street Sweeping Schedule
Now, there is a newsflash only a local insider could love. I remember why I signed up. While the thoroughly modern city of Lewiston, Idaho was building its roundabout, there had been detours and various aesthetic inconveniences from dust to concrete chunks, and things that made Southway Drive less pleasant even than taking the skinny-laned Blue Bridge into town from the Washington side. I probably received a couple of notices, never read them because I wasn’t going out, and forgot about it once the roundabout was finished.
The roundabout has been a real boon to the flow of traffic, and I think it’s an outstanding example of a small city adopting a metropolitan concept that works well on a small scale. The Lewiston roundabout is not at all confusing like the ones in Europe, those endless loops that suck cars into a potentially eternal merry-go-round; nor is it a road obstruction designed to hinder fugitives (the cops have better tires) in certain parts of Tacoma and neighboring Lakewood, bedroom community to Joint Base Lewis-McCord.
For all that, I cannot doubt the value of knowing when our over-river twin city’s Street Maintenance Division of the Public Works Department will be engaged in fruitful dust reduction activity. I know they’ll do a good job, too.