Sidewalk Planter

I happened upon this tonight [10/1], on my way downtown to pick up Owen from after-school. It would look better without the coffee cup, I know, but I didn’t think of that when I took the picture. I only thought about getting the right angle on the grass.

I’m pretty sure this is in front of a construction site. Otherwise, whomever owned the business that this would be in front of would have come out with their grass trimmers a long time ago and cut down this mess.

Tonight I passed by the senior center where for a month I sat at a table reading the Richard Lattimore translation of The Iliad. I was working for the U.S. Census Bureau, as a Questionnaire Assistance Center Representative. Most people in the senior center came up and told me either that they had already filled out their form and sent it back the day they received it, or they harassed me for getting paid their tax money to sit and read.

There was one guy in particular. He wasn’t on a mission or anything, he was just killing time, like me, except he didn’t get paid to do it.

The first time he questioned me I told him I’m not paid to sit, there’s just no reason to stand, and that I’m paid for this, and I tapped on my head. I’m paid for my knowledge, I told him. When people ask questions, I know the answer. He didn’t pursue the matter any more that day.

The next time he came and asked me if I felt guilty getting paid people’s tax dollars to sit and read I told him: No, I don’t, and if you’re so worried about people’s tax dollars being misspent, you should do something about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan!

I got a bit irritated this time. This was the first job I’d had since October 2008 [it was now April 2009] and here he was begrudging me it. The pay wasn’t even good — it was less than half of what I made before.

(And I was able to read The Iliad finally. I would have felt guilty reading it at home, not being paid, since there were always a dozen other things at any moment that I could have been doing instead, including looking for a job.)

We were told not to discuss anything controversial, by which they mean anything debatable, so I was breaking a federal rule there, but I figured: Hey, when is the next time I’m going to have such a captive audience?

It reminded me of an English movie I once saw, I don’t remember the name of it, but there was a scene with someone going into a jobs office, and there were all sorts of posters on the wall encouraging people to vote Socialist, and to organize to defend their rights as workers. It seemed like what a government office should be!

I just figured: there’s something about that I.D. card with a Census Bureau insignia on it that bolsters your argument. End the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan! No new wars in Iran or Venezuela! It’s official U.S. Census Bureau policy!

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