Friday, December 14, 2012

The Dunkin Donuts Affair

by Madeleine Kando

Bedford, Massachusetts is one of those towns that the whole world drives through to get somewhere else. The main road, called the Great Road is really not so great. It is the only artery that connects the highway with the more affluent surrounding communities and it is adorned with fast-food joints, supermarkets and gas stations. People stop, shop or get gas and move on to greener pastures.

Dunkin Donuts is one of the more popular locales of this drive-through town and our house has the misfortune of being one of the ‘abutters’, as they are officially called. I am a veteran Bedford resident and I have the scars to show for it. For the past year, I have battled with the town to try to get a decent night’s sleep.

Dunkin Donuts opens its doors at 6am at which point the drive-through intercom starts blaring ‘may I help you?’ with such deafening force that it could wake up the dead. But the real cause of my year-long battle with the powers that be is that the delivery truck comes rumbling in at the insane hour of 4 am, which obviously is in direct violation of the town bylaws.

I didn’t want to be branded a NIMBY (short for ‘not in my backyard’), so I politely walked to DD and asked the manager to please turn down the volume of their intercom, explaining my abutter dilemma. Ah, but that is centrally controlled, I was told. It might take a while for the request to go through to Corporate. But he promised he would follow up on it. I was so encouraged that I also mentioned the delivery truck problem, to which he replied that DD doesn’t control the delivery, as if they were at the mercy of the weather, doughnuts falling out the sky at any time of night or day, without warning.

A few weeks later, nothing had changed. With heavy bags under my eyes, I had no choice but to go into second gear and call the town.

Way back in the stone age of my quest for sleep, I was na├»ve enough to think that notifying the town authorities about ‘excessive noise’ would be the ticket to my dream world, but instead it was the entrance to a heretofore unknown world of ‘passing the buck’. I felt like a ping pong ball being sent from one branch of the town bureaucracy to another.

I called the Code Enforcement department and after explaining the reason for my call, was told that it was the police department’s responsibility. I called the police department. ‘There isn’t much we can do, ma’am, unless we catch the driver in the act. Just call us next time you see him. Ah, so I was to stand guard in my pj’s at 4 am, watch the truck come in and call the police. Piece of cake.

A little voice inside me said that that this was NOT the right way to go about it. I called the town again. Oh, it’s not the police department, it’s the public health department that oversees this. It’s an ‘excessive noise’ problem.

I started to lose it. I wrote a letter to the Town Manager. That certainly had an effect, but not the one I expected. A few days later, I received a reply from the head of the Zoning Department, saying that they hoped I was pleased with the resolution of my complaint. That the department would be more than happy to address any future issues in the same efficient and satisfactory manner.

Needless to say, I gave up on the whole affair. Neither the town manager nor the head of the Zoning Department believe in enforcing the town’s bylaws. I have accepted reality. I am considering petitioning the town to make earplugs tax deductible and unless you are a very sound sleeper, don't even think about moving to Bedord. leave comment here