The Beauty of Asking: Getting What You Want or Need

Before my husband and I moved into Maplewood, a few unacceptable things were apparent. I already discussed my pure disdain for door shutters, the yucky-fake wood door, and the Maple that blocked my house. Yet, these were items that only affected the aesthetic value of the house and were never a function of safety.


However, the storm drain in front of my house was a hazard. See this picture? Would you want to live near that? I was thinking about my future children, the neighborhood kids, and my little Pomeranians. But no one would ever know how I felt about the storm drains until I asked for someone to fix it. Naturally, I wrote an email:


To Whom It May Concern:

My husband and I are buying a house located at XXXX Xxxxxxxx xxxxx and are set to close on August 22nd.  I am formally requesting Montgomery County to fix the drain in front of the house. The space between the street and the top of the sidewalk is very large and does not have a grate.  We are concerned, as well as some of our new neighbors, about this issue. 


Storm drains pose a huge risk to children when a child could easily slip into the drain. All the other drains in the neighborhood do not have as wide of an opening. Down the street is a two-year-old boy; next door is a little girl, and so forth. There are children all over the neighborhood and on their behalf, I am asking for the County to rectify this problem before a child is injured.


My husband and I are thrilled to move to Montgomery County to start our family.  We are only asking that you help our interests, as well as the parents and children of the neighborhood. Thank you kindly for your assistance and attention to this matter.


The address of the storm drain s located in front of:

XXXX Xxxxxxxx xxxxx

Rockville, MD 20853


Warmest Wishes,


Joya M. Junge

Good Morning:


Thank you for your email regarding a storm drain with a wide opening at xxxx XXXXXXX XX.


Service Request No. 1156425798 has been entered for inspection and appropriate action by our field staff. If you would like to check the status of the request, please call the MC311 Call Center by dialing 3-1-1 (240-777-0311 if outside Montgomery County) in a week to ten days with the above tracking number.


Thank you again for bringing this matter to our attention.


Timothy Serrano

Division of Highway Services

Department of Transportation



Alright, very good, but then a month rolled by and I never saw anyone fix the issue. I was about to write the County again when I saw three men working in front of my house. Honestly, I thought they wanted to bitch about my new fence, so I asked them what they were doing. They pointed to the dangerous, gaping storm drain and said they were there to fix it. That totally calls for a “W00t!”


Something as simple as asking for what you want/ need is sometimes just forgotten from my every day life, but I remembered a beautiful story from a classmate. She was an end of life hospice worker getting her master’s in nursing and conflict management. We were asked to share about a principal that we learned in the class and she said, “sometimes it is as simple as asking someone to help you resolve a conflict.”


She told us the story about one of her patients that wanted to go home to die in front of his fireplace with all his children around him. That was his final request, but the hospice told him he could not do it because of his condition. He was told that he would probably pass away on the car ride back to his house an hour away.


            My classmate wanted his last hours on this earth to be, as he wanted, so she thought to ask for an ambulance to take him home. She was told that he would need a special machine that was extremely costly to keep his body warm. The hospice did not have this machine. Some people would have given up and gone about their business.


            Yet, she called the hospital affiliated with the hospice to ask them the question. She was told “no” because it was against hospital policy. Again, she could have given up there, so she explained to them the situation and asked if the person on the phone could ask her supervisor to allow her to borrow one of the machines for this dying man. The supervisor said yes.

            The man, who could have died in the hospital room, was granted his final request. Twelve hours after he got home, he died in front of his fireplace with all his children around him. His request was satisfied because he asked my classmate, she asked the hospital, and the hospital worker asked her supervisor.



Okay, so my classmate told that story much better than I just did, but I love it just the same. Asking for a storm drain repair is not even close to the level of the aforementioned. Yet, the principal is the same, “sometimes it is as simple as asking someone to help you resolve a conflict.”