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The Mayor of 15th Street

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  • The Mayor of 15th Street

    The Mayor by Anna McDonald

    A guy on my street, let's call him Eddie, is probably thirty-eight, only two or three inches shorter than Wilt Chamberlain, with a sort of pirate's crook nose and a Russian infantryman's sinewy musculoskeletal system. He doesn't seem to mind the smell of trash. I know this because he's my trash man. He used to live somewhere far beneath my building (I believe in the alley), and now he lives in it, on the first floor, where a whole community of sketchy people seem to come and go, and where, if you stop too long to check your mail, you might eavesdrop on a “**** you” or two between the clanking of saucepans.

    Eddie also sweeps the stoop, greets the visitors, buzzes in delivery guys, and holds the door for women. He is the mayor of our block. I mean this in a libertarian sense. If every tenant in the West 200s on Fifteenth Street had to identify in a lineup the one person they made eye contact with the most in any given month, it would be Eddie. I guess what makes him such a public figure is his continual presence; I have at least a hundred extended neighbors, and none of us really know each other, but all of us know him. When I go to work in the morning, he's there; when the unemployed insurance salesman across the street steps out to check his P.O. box or pick up his wired cash from his mother in Lansing, he's there; when the smoking hyena adsales girls who live below me go out for their evening fixes, he's there. I officially inaugurated Eddie myself in 2002, a few weeks after I moved in, when I noticed that I didn't have to separate my cardboard from my plastic in the recycling bag—Eddie would do it for me, with the sort of alacrity that only inspires those who truly enjoy their occupations. It is a specific “I enjoy service” face. He is not thinking, “You are a ****head” under his breath. Delivery guys don't make this face, but deli guys do, and so do the people who handout the ad-fat free daily papers on the subway.

    Over the years, Eddie has teamed up with various “lieutenant mayors”, but none of them have lasted even a half term. Some of them were too cracked out; others too lazy. The only first lady was a mid-day snoozer with a penchant for Swiss Cake Rolls and caterwauling at rival congressmen around the block. Her committees convened during trash pick-up hours, which left her other half constantly in the lurch....
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