Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Phone Books Returned to Dex!
Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman
About a week and a half ago, I picked up over twenty-five phone books from vacant properties in only part of the Hawthorne neighborhood. I'd been meaning to get rid of those right away and get back out there to fill the trunk up with more, but stuff happens. So I finally got around to dropping these off at Dex early this morning.
The sign at their Maple Grove headquarters is pictured above, as well as the location in the phone book. I liked the poetic irony of using their product for nothing else except the act of determining where to return dozens of unwanted phone books.
On my way to the building, I pondered whether I ought to act like a supremely PO'd bird of prey, or put on my happy face. So I walked into the third floor lobby and...
...decided to play nice. I used the tone of voice and overall demeanor that once convinced not one, not two, but THREE municipal employees to stay past 4:30 on a Friday to help me with some mortgage documents.
I introduced myself and said I lived and worked in the Hawthorne neighborhood in north Minneapolis, and that one Saturday I noticed quite a few phone books that were left at properties that were clearly abandoned. When I said I had somewhere around thirty of those phone books in my trunk and gosh, I'd sure like to return them, THAT got the receptionist's attention.
She went and got one of their marketers to help me unload the phone books from my trunk. This woman was incredibly grateful that I took the time to do this, and pleased that I was being so cordial. I said that at least the first time I spoke with them about this issue, I didn't want to just drive by and throw the phone books at their building. "We've had that happen," she said.
I explained to this woman that we see this a lot, and that Dex phone books have appeared on clearly vacant properties across NoMi over the past two weeks. These aren't just phone books that owners or occupants at the houses have neglected to pick up, these are ones that based on the BOARDS ON WINDOWS AND DOORS should never have been delivered in the first place.
The main areas where I'd seen them were between Plymouth Ave N and Lowry Ave N, which is what I'd told this woman when she said she would have a delivery person go back and pick them up. I graciously pointed out that at least the ones I was returning were still dry and usable, whereas the other phone books were probably pretty wet - not just from the rain, but let's just say that cats don't use phone books for the same things people do.
I was brought into the loading garage, and we unloaded my haul. Once again, I asked her if Dex would send someone out to pick the phone books up from vacant properties, and was told that they'd get their delivery people to look into it. I also suggested that perhaps the delivery people should get paid not just on straight-up units distributed, but by getting credit for a delivery when they mark a house as vacant.
And let's talk about numbers for a minute: In the area where I picked up 25 phone books (roughly half of Hawthorne), there were 35 properties registered as condemned or boarded and vacant. Some of these properties were duplexes and had two or more phone books left there, but still, it comes out to a phone book at over 70% of the vacant properties in NoMi. I've also got a dot map that marks each condemned/boarded property. Counting dots gets tiresome after a while though, so I'm going to estimate this as between 350 and 400, knowing that even the 400 number is probably an undercount.
Still, 70% of 400 comes out to an estimate of 280. But this round of Dex phone books contains three different ones in the same bag. So now we've got over 800 phone books left at vacant properties in NoMi by ONE COMPANY ALONE. How much waste is that?
In fairness, the Dex representative did say they would go back and try to pick them up. After a week or so, if you see a Dex phone book sitting at a vacant property in your neighborhood, call 763-971-7195 and let them know about it.