Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke doesn’t it? Well, our odyssey through the maze of Cambridge bureaucracy started back in September of 2011 and here we are, finally, with a building permit almost a year later. Now don’t get me wrong, we have had, with a few exceptions, an incredibly wonderful experience with the good people in the various Cambridge departments of government. In fact, I was quite defensive every time someone would say, “Oh, you are dealing with Cambridge? Good luck. I have heard it is horrendous.” It has not been horrendous, but it has been long, tiresome, seemingly arbitrary at times, humorous, and definitely confusing.
The first round of interactions took us through the intricacies of the zoning change process. I won’t bore you with the details but the process included a lawyer, a hearing, a waiting period of 8-10 weeks plus another of 20 days for appeal. At one point, I went into the inspectional services building to ask a question. “I have a question about the space we are working on at 1001 Mass Avenue,” I said, “in regards to the massage rooms upstairs.” The guy turned around a yelled out to the sea of desks and people behind him, “this young lady wants to talk to someone about the massage parlor she wants to open down the street.” I definitely got some interesting looks for that one.
Most recently, we went into the inspectional services building to speak with the last two guys who needed to sign off on the building permit. Or at least that is what we thought. Here we were with Frank, the plumbing inspector, and Buddy, the health inspector. They were going back and forth about a bunch of things. “Who told you you needed a three bay sink?” asked Frank. “I did,” said Buddy. “You know, they are making smoothies and stuff.” “What the heck is a smoothie?” asked Frank. “‘You know, it’s like a milk shake with fruit.” I didn’t correct him because I knew that a discussion about nut milks would be way too much. Finally, Frank looks at us and says, “You’ve seen Wendy at the public works right?” Who the hell is Wendy, I thought, but what I said was, “No, we have not seen Wendy. Who is Wendy? Why do we need to see her? And, is she nice???” So off we went to the public works. Guess what Wendy said, “Why are you here?” Ugh.
Last Monday, I went into my home-away-from-home and brought them vegan cupcakes and a card thanking them for guiding us through this incredibly confounding process. “What the heck is vegan??” I heard one say. “It means it is good for you, no eggs no butter.” “oh, well I’ll have another then.” Now when we walk in there, yes, Steven and I still need to have many more inspections before this is through, they call us “Yoga”. “Hey Yoga what’s happening?” I guess that will work.