Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Sidewalk Sweepers and Me

In SOMA, professional street cleaners wash the streets and sidewalks with pressure washers, forcing the street dirt, the unsavory, the filth into the depths of the sewer system.  The regular cleaner does it all with a tip of his hat as he redirects the spray from my path as I hurry to the KT line with a fine mist clinging to my hosiery.

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In Bernal and Mission, on my leisurely mile walk to the 24th and Mission BART station, I see shop keepers and home owners sweeping the sidewalk. The elderly tacqueria owner pushes his industrial broad broom catching cigarette butts and leaves but passing over the chewing gum wads.  Then there are the two Asian land ladies, backs hunched over primitive grass bunches tied together with twine.  The dichotomy of the new world and old world breaks into my morning routine as I walk on reconciling their faux Adidas trainer pants, latex gloves and grass brooms.
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SIDEWALK PERFORMANCE, Jo Hanson, San Francisco, 1980, photo by Jim Weeks. via WeadArtists.org
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There is a bit of smeared canine diarrhea on the walk in front of my house.  It's close to the curb and I can easily avoid it. I could bring the hose around from the laundry and attempt a cleaning myself. Instead I wait for the rain and wonder how to come to terms with my value of personal responsibility, which I laud when I walk by it in the Mission, and my laziness at my own home.

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The rain came and now there is no evidence of my disregard to the condition of our sidewalk. Yet I pass by her again this morning with her grass, sweeping in what I would call an inefficient manner, the object of her cleaning intentions swirling in unruly fleeing attempts against the uneven branches.

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