Wednesday, February 9, 2011

This stuck place

The wind feels like a March day in February. As I go to unlock the door, I finger the broken stub of a key that unlocked the gates. I remember that when I went to throw it away, Amanda said, “No, don’t. You  need a reminder of  what it was like to have those gates up, what it felt like when they came down. Keep it with you.” While sweeping the steps, someone tosses an empty orange juice box my way. What’s up with that? Trash accumulating on the 86th Street side. I’m going to have to deal with that, but for now I’ll focus on the big stuff. 
An older woman approaches, “Me perdon, esta usted hispano?” I simply say, “Que necesita mi hermana?” It turns out she’s looking for a particular grocery store. It’s ten blocks to the north. She’s come to ochentayseis  instead of noventayseis. I point her in the right direction. “Gracias, pepito,” she says as she leaves. 
I hear the voice of  one of my members, a single mother. “ Bob,what are you doing with a broom?” “Sweeping, “ I say. “I do this every day, have to keep the place clean.” She needs diapers for her child. It’s a difficult time, jobs hard to come by.  I offer her a personal check, but that won’t work. Western Union only cashes business checks. It will take another visit to get what she needs. Her frustration as she hangs on the edge grows harder.
I meet with Tom and Susan at Popovers, two doors down. The agenda starts with the boiler, getting new estimates, quotes. And continues with trying to break the logjam with the community groups offering assistance in return for promises not to contest landmarking and why we simply can’t do that. They seem to agree, want to help. Now to move the politicians...This stuck place around the boiler has to end for anything to flow freely. It’s slowing momentum. 
I look out the window seeing Deacon Linda on her way to volunteer again. 
The temperature will continue to drop all day long. 

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