Saturday, November 5, 2022

Still Life with Robin: Reading the Leaves

by Peggy Robin

On October 24 DPW sent out a press release to say that the Leaf Collection season had begun, and all residents with yards would be getting the Leaf Collection brochure in the mail.

I didn’t get mine that week, and since I need to keep up my reputation as a curmudgeon, I complained about it on the Listserv (Message  )

Well, a few days ago I finally got my leaf collection brochure in the mail. Now I have a new complaint. This thing is just unreadable. Such tiny, tiny type! I wear bifocals but they’re not strong enough for me to make out the itty-bitty letters. I need a magnifying glass. It’s not just the size of the type, anyway; it’s the lack of contrast in some key parts. There are some sub-heading in yellow bars with white type. And then the reverse: sub-headings in yellow type on a white background. I don’t care what age you are or how sharp your eyes are – yellow on white is NOT all right!

Don’t get me started on the maps, either. OK, too late, I’m already fuming about the maps. The boundary lines for the leaf pick-up areas are labeled in blue ink, which is dark enough to stand out against the while background, but not crisply printed – it’s all fuzzy. If I didn’t already know the city streets quite well, I wouldn’t be sure where the boundary lines are.

The crux of the problem is trying to cram far too much information onto too small a piece of paper. Instead of trying to cover the whole city in a single sheet of 11” x 17” doubled over and then tri-folded into a brochure, they really needed to create a booklet of at least eight pages, with a decent sized map for each of the eight wards, one per page.

I’m not a graphic designer, but I know bad design when I see it. I just hope that DC wasn’t paying big bucks to some fancy design firm for this very botched brochure.

Now for my final and most curmudgeonly complaint. Take a look at the cartoon rendering of a leaf blower in the address panel (middle panel) of the brochure: See the little blue leaf-blower character with the googly eye?. You see what’s wrong with him? He doesn’t have an electric cord! Nor can you see his rechargeable battery pack. He’s an illegal gas blower! True, he’s accompanied by his friend, Mr. Rake-- but then why is the rake so much shorter than the gas blower. A long skinny rake should make the gas blower seem chunky but short. Even their cartoon characters are bad designs!

OK, I’m done complaining for the time being. I need to save up my complaint-stock for the inevitable day when the leaf pick-up on my block is more than a week overdue and the leaves are still piled up at the curb and are starting to rot, and my 311 complaint is marked “fulfilled” when the leaf truck has never even passed by.

I’ll either be doing a follow-up complaint in a few weeks, or maybe just maybe, I’ll apologize for being so negative when the leaves get picked up right on time! We shall see……


Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

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