Sleeping on the job?

August 5th, 2013, 9am

It was 29°C with few clouds. The breeze was gentle.

Most mornings around 9:30, a tall man is out here dealing with this stretch of sidewalk. He has a grey buzz cut wrapped in a sweat band and t-shirt sleeves rolled up over his shoulders. He’s not messing around. He’s usually out here with a bamboo broom and a dustpan, sometimes tongs for the bigger pieces of trash. Once he was taking on the whole area with a vacuum, the cord trailing into the building. He mops the bricks once in a while, and I’d be surprised if he didn’t splash his bucket of water out onto the sidewalk afterward. So it was jarring to see a cigarette butt and tissues on the ground here. Is the man on vacation? The other day, a Sunday evening, there was vomit in the flower bed, the edges of the dried puddle encroaching on the sidewalk. I imagined the tall man arriving at work on Monday morning and spotting it. I imagined him standing there, fists on hips, glaring at the transgression. I imagined him catching the puker the night before, before it was too late, guiding the hunched-over wretch away: Not here, buddy. Not on my sidewalk.

Craig, Jane and Michael said thanks.

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Sandra Barron

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