Harry Wong
Jun 2017
Vol 14 No 2


By Todd R. Nelson

The job of an elementary school principal can get complicated some days.

It all started when the code enforcement officer of Schoolsville, me, realized that the merchants and construction companies working out back by the playground sandbox had not taken out the required permits. So I paid a visit to the supervisors at their place of business: Mrs. Pelletier’s grade 2-3 classroom.

“We can’t have retail stores doing business and large-scale public works projects under way without proper permits,” I told the kids. “It’ll be mayhem. Fortunately, I have the official paperwork right here.”

As soon as I handed out the regulation forms to the surprised crew of sandbox contractors and engineers, and the proprietors of the Big Stump Variety Store, there was a flurry of paperwork. To my surprise, an economic boom had started. Schoolsville had been incorporated.

Everything was going well down at the permit office until the new applicants read the line on the permit application that required proof of insurance. No one had bothered to secure the required liability coverage.

“What’s an insurance binder?” asked Jacob.

“What if someone tripped and fell in your store, or you lost your inventory to fire or theft?” I explained in my best CEO manner. The business owners saw the point.

Fortunately, third grader Byron, the local insurance agent was on hand: Dossett Accident and Indemnity, Inc., to the rescue. The policy he was promoting was pricey (11 pine cones for two months!), but covered just about everything—except, specifically, hurricanes, floods, and other “acts of God.”

This flung wide the door of economic opportunity. Bankers arrived on the scene, offering favorable rates on minimum deposits of 7 pinecones, and offering building loans and investment capital below prime. Could realtors be far behind? Ian, of Henderson Realty, presented his card and went to work on the creation of a new sub-division. Luxury condos in Schoolsville were on the horizon. Good news for all the builders in town.

In the next few days, the municipality positively buzzed. One job after another expanded the economy and labor force, or was required by the economy and workforce as it expanded. Along came Deputy Colson, Parking Warden Spinazola (she consented to handing out only warnings— at least to current residents. No guarantees for newcomers), Harbor Master Griffiths, and even Plumbing Inspector Hassett. Beyond the construction trades and enforcers of the various codes, the more sedate trappings of village life took shape. Hannah became librarian, Jen wanted to be lighthouse keeper, and Charlotte opened up her Veterinarian and Large Animal MD practice. Tyler imagined himself as Commissioner of Hockey, Savanna as Superintendent of Ballet. The Commissioner of Agriculture is the new first grader named Apple.

Even a lawyer, with a practice limited to civil suits and playground law, found acceptance and a livelihood: Jacob Witting, Attorney at Law. And how many attorneys advertise their prices right out front on their “shingle?” Witting does:

Small claims (under 20 pine cones) –  4 pine cones
Disturbance of the Peace mediation –  5 pinecones
Arbitration and mediation                –  7 pinecones
Property and boundary disputes       –  6 pine cones

Schoolsville is a very special legal environment indeed.

The playground town grew and prospered; other diverse roles were invented and filled.  By the end of the week there was a fire chief, Japanese restaurant owners, even a stunt coordinator. A few gaps remain. There is as yet no justice of the peace or Postmaster. Schoolsville still needs a Director of Recyclable Resources and Sanitation Department Head. As of yet, there’s no tax collector—but it’s probably only a matter of time. Somebody has to pay for the new sewer plant.

And Schoolsville isn’t perfect. It looks like attorney Witting may have some lawsuits on his hands, as the parking warden has extended her authority over the town line. It seems a certain green car had overstayed its welcome in her neighborhood, so she ticketed it—and had Deputy Colson tow it away. The owner, her dad, has filed a grievance. He’s looking for relief from the 4-pine cone fine and 3-pine cone-a-day storage fee. The lawyer is the only one who stands to benefit from this one. We may need a judge in town before long. Alas, at press time Witting was quitting his practice to run for political office: mayor of the playground.

I just hope the real estate bubble doesn’t burst. I think I got in at the bottom and naturally I’d like to get my equity out at the peak. Buy low, sell high, as the kids say. My new broker is recommending pinecone futures. I’m not greedy. I don’t with to corner the market or anything. Just a little “Argent de poche,” as the French say, would be nice.



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This entry was posted on Thursday, October 1st, 2009 and is filed under October 2009, Todd Nelson. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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