So we’re number 13. Thirteen? We don’t know thirteen what, but there it is: spray-painted in the dirt at the end of the alley.
Every alley in the ’hood suddenly turned up with a number spray-painted at each end, in ox-blood red. No explanation from our honored city parents or the utility companies as to what’s up.
I assume this is a harbinger of more chaos: they no doubt intend to dig up the alleys and create some more mess for us.
But there’s another possible explanation: one fraught with controversy but one that, if they were to push it through, would be exceptionally good for the neighborhood.
The alleys here provide cover for the bums who are now imported every day by lightrail. The lovely train brings them up to the end of the line at the corner of Conduit of Blight Blvd and Gangbanger’s Way, where they’re all disgorged onto the street — made to get off the cars. So they stream into the nearby parking lots, where they hang out for awhile before roaming into our neighborhood. They use the alleys as their bedrooms and bathrooms. Sometime they peer over the fences by way of figuring how to burgle houses. And a few months back one of these charmers jumped a young couple’s wall and molested two small girls who were playing in their backyard.
Personally, I don’t like to take the garbage out back at all — our garbage cans are in the alley — and will not do so at night. It was OK when I had the German shepherd — once Anna stood off a weirdo when she went with me to take the trash. But these little corgis are useless that way.
After the wall-jumping episode, the City suggested we should fence off the alleys, spanning each end with gates that could be opened, using a code, by residents and by the cops and the fire department.
Naturally, nothing like that can ever be easy. Some people thought it was a good idea; others rose up in arms against it. La Maya, for example, hates the idea, because it would mean garbage and trash would have to be collected from the fronts of our houses instead of from the alleys.
Recycling is already picked up in front. For garbage, communal four-person bins are set out in the alleys, to the City’s displeasure: they want to replace the things with one-household bins to be picked up in front, because the newer garbage trucks are too large to easily navigate the narrow alleys. La Maya thinks people will make a fine mess, stacking up debris in front of their houses for the quarterly loose trash pickup.
They’re doing that over in Richistan now, and yes, it is messy in the week or two before the loose trash pickup, which only occurs about every three or four months. But by and large in a neighborhood where people take care of their homes (most people here do), it’s not a serious problem.
Obviously, blocking vagrants from adapting the alleys as their private toilets and campsites would make life a great deal better around here. And safer: one reason they’re attracted to our neighborhood is that the alleys make convenient hidden passageways for them, as well as campgrounds. And the garbage cans are an attractive nuisance. Tomorrow is garbage pickup day, so the bins are full. This morning when I took the dogs for a walk, what should I see but a seedy character burning his way up past the park, pushing his grocery cart as fast as he could go. Half-an hour later, when I came back into my part of the neighborhood, by golly, there he was in an alley, pulling junk out of one of the trash bins. He was specifically called here by the sheltered trash bins, which make it possible to scavenge for goods you can sell for drug money.
So…yeah. I really hope 13 is a lucky number this time.
Images: Deposit photos.
Trash bins: © Crisferra;