The post New Year's street sweeping was pretty bad.
1) We had taken a few weeks off.
2) The Senior crew hadn't started back up yet so I did it by myself
3)It was cold
4) I couldn't believe the amount of trash.
There was trash like hangers, used maxi pads, that kind of thing. Gross.
I called in two needles, and that should remind me not to pick up the trash with my hands no matter what even if I'm wearing gloves.
A mailman passed by and he looked at me.
"Dude who'd you piss off to get this neighborhood?"
I looked at him quizzically and he repeated himself.
"Actually I'm doing this on my own."
I guess he had seen me as white, and he had assumed that I was working for the city. This taught me that even as a street sweeper, a paid street sweeper, to be a paid street sweeper in Chinatown is to be the lowest of the low or perhaps is considered to be punishment.
Here I am sweeping for free. Go figure.
He encouraged me though and talked about how a lot of people don't want to work Chinatown. It's considered dirty and the people are considered nasty. I didn't realize we had such a bad rap compared to other neighborhoods.
But he said that he actually liked this neighborhood even though there is a language barrier (he's white) and that he enjoyed talking to some of the old ladies. But he mentioned that it seems like only the old people and the old ladies especially do anything to help the community. From his perspective the young people are horrible.
"They just walk by, they spit" I spit too for the record. But ever since I've been doing this sweeping stuff I've tried to cut down, because it doesn't look good if I spit and someone sees me.
He mentioned One Greenway being built, brand new sidewalk and two weeks later it looking like garbage.
The thing is pre new year it had come to the point where Tyler Street was cleaner than the street I live on in JP. I was considering starting to do the Jp street sweeping. But now Tyler Street looks horrible.
"Do they even do Street sweeping in the summer" he asked, because from his view it didn't look like they did. I think they actually street sweep in Chinatown twice a week on paper. But I bet there was a New Year's holiday thing. And when a car is parked on the street and it belongs to someone who knows someone... well I think there are a lot of ways that maybe the street doesn't get fully swept.
he mentioned when the trash was collected how it just spilled out every where because of the amount, and the small streets.
he said that actually it's a nice community, "well the old ladies anyway, not so much the guys." I laughed out loud at that. I'm not saying he's wrong. I happen to know a lot of old guys and be friends with them, but from his perspective there must be some reason for this comment.
In any case I learned something.
We smiled and parted and he went back to his job and I went back to mine. And in any case I feel like that little conversation built a small bridge. Neither of us live in Chinatown, but both of us are part of the community. Him even more so than me, because the mailman is the most routine person and is the first to notice what's off, and often spot crimes etc more than police.