26 Dec

Santa, keep the sleigh out of the bike lanes

Dear Santa,

The question of whether we’ve been a naughty or nice place over the past year is complicated. We do claim to be carefully planned.

First of all, we’re sorry about all those TV ads suggesting that people give each other Oregon Lottery scratch-off tickets for Christmas, something we know your elves don’t produce. We’re not trying to put you out of business; we just really need the money.

But if you’re looking to take a break from your rounds tonight, we have many hospitable video poker machines. Most of the locations have parking, even for sleighs.

We have an extensive range of food carts, many of them open quite late, even on Christmas Eve. Some of them must offer cuisine of the North Pole. I think there’s a cart on Northeast Sandy called Seal of Approval.

With a bunch of the carts now offering alcohol, there’s got to some offering egg nog. They do stop serving alcohol at 10 p.m., but that’s 1 a.m. Eastern time; by then, after completing most of your deliveries, you should be ready for a break.

And we do specialize in late-night donuts.

We should also mention that since you’ve been here last, we’ve voted to legalize marijuana. It’s not technically in effect yet, but still, if you notice some smoke, it may not be from the chimney, if you get our drift.

Some households might even leave you a little something for your pipe.

But be careful. If you get into an accident, our Cover Oregon health insurance program still isn’t working quite the way we’d hoped. Maybe it’ll be ready next Christmas, or maybe you could deliver us some functioning software.

Or maybe you could drop off something that could be useful in our lawsuit against Oracle. Some yellow legal pads, or maybe some incriminating emails.

Something else we’ve got on our list is a place to put our new county courthouse, hopefully before the current one falls down. (When we all try to be very quiet to hear you coming, we can hear the building creak.) If you could find a location for us, we’d hail you as Seismic Santa, or maybe the Safety Claus.

We haven’t really had a chance to do our own naughty/nice list, but the secretary of state does have an easily available list of 2014 campaign contributions. It won’t be an exact list of who’s been good or bad this past year, but it will give you a sense of who’s already gotten everything they wanted.

Whatever you were thinking of giving Monsanto, they’ve probably already bought.

We do have to say Portland’s not the easiest place to get around; in fact, flying reindeer may be the most practical way. The condition of our streets may be recognizable to you from flying over the Yukon; we’ve been looking hard for a way to pay for fixing them, and if you could leave the answer under the tree in Pioneer Courthouse Square, it would be just what we’ve been asking for.

(I know you were wondering why the City Council was sitting on your lap at Macy’s; they’d pretty much exhausted all other ways of looking for a solution.)

If you do try to make your way through our streets Christmas Eve, the key rule is to stay out of the bike lanes. We have very specific laws covering nonmotorized vehicles on our rights of way, and besides, the city is full of drivers ready to make a left turn right between Donder and Blitzen.

(Unlike some other places, Portland is not an ideal landing area for a sleigh with snow runners in December; maybe you could attach some pontoons. Also, right now is about the time when roofs around here start to leak, so we’d appreciate it if you’d keep an eye on the reindeer.)

We’d like to say that Portland offers reliable mass transit alternatives to single-occupancy vehicles such as your sleigh. But we’ve learned recently that there are some problems with the streetcar keeping to its schedule, and you might not get your deliveries done until February. If St. Nicholas is tailgating St. Valentine, the entire greeting card industry melts down.

We thought for a while we might be able to help you out with a big new bridge to the north, but you probably shouldn’t count on that any time soon.

One other tip: If you’re having trouble getting around Portland tonight, don’t call Uber.

We’ll explain why later.

Merry Christmas,

The City That Works

NOTE: This column appeared in The Oregonian, 12/24/14.
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