Tuesday is garbage day at the Pink House. The trucks usually rumble through the alley before 8:30am. But this Tuesday, the trucks somehow skipped our house. Since all of us generate a lot of garbage (and not just the rhetorical kind), we faced a long and smelly week.

So yesterday, on a whim, the missus called 3-1-1 — which had been a phone number for minor emergencies and recently became an all-purpose city services number. Her expectations were low. The District of Columbia, until recently, was renown for having one of the worst city governments in America. But her call was answered. She got a case number. And, lo and behold, this morning a DPW truck picked up our garbage.

This might not sound like much to those of you elsewhere. But here in D.C. it’s unprecedented. And appreciated. It’s also a sign to organizations of all kinds that it’s possible to begin transforming even the most dysfunctional cultures. I’m sure glad I voted for reform-minded Mayor Fenty — and didn’t just buy running shoes from his parents.

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