Thursday, September 24, 2009

Together In Misery

The space I found was not one I voluntarily went to, but opened the city nonetheless. I don’t know many people who would happily take a trip to this location, yet many find themselves there, waiting, to be given back what’s there’s. The place I speak of is the impound lot, 6700 Pulaski Highway. Some of these people simply forgot or didn’t notice, others were victims of injustice or daring risks, and others were simply arrogant or drunk, but they all walked out to the organ dropping felling of their vehicle being towed or just plain missing. However, they all found themselves sitting, cursing, and waiting to see the damage.

In the waiting room, or short capacious hallway, a wide variety of people sat and stood amongst each other. Some were with friends, others with family, and others were just by themselves. However, they all had one thing in common, they were miserable. A silent empathy filled the air around us. There wasn’t a person in the room who neither looked nor could of possibly been content to be there. The city had caused all of them a great inconvenience, and was all about to charge them all a sizable fine. A look around the room revealed people barely being supported by their chairs, in a locked stare with floor, or casual half smile as if to say, “they got you too, huh?” It was a waiting room of city citizens joined together in misery.

As hours slid by like cold molasses, other uniting factors began to surface. Animosity swelled from those seated and gathered opposite the counter, all focused towards those behind the counter, were sat smugly and safely behind the eighteen inch square. A common enemy had emerged, and suddenly the heavy, gray prison bars blockading each counter’s opening didn’t seem so unnecessary. Evidence of this came as a woman exploded in fury, screeching about the pure injustice she faced in being charged for a car that shouldn’t have ever been towed. While this demonstration made those waiting semi-patiently noticeably uncomfortable, none seemed to be opposed to the hissy fit. Glares intensified, fists tightened, and nobody seemed to blame her, regardless of whether they believed her story. She stood against the common enemy, and in doing so united those whose city lives had been so gravely disturbed, regardless of guilt.

It was a silent revolution, fore no one moved nor spoke; yet it seemed to open the room a little more. The tyrant was identified and the victims held their stare. I don’t believe there was an innocent party in this metaphorical battle, yet each person played their part in “an intricate ballet in which the individual dancer and ensembles all have distinctive parts which miraculously reinforce each other and compose and orderly whole” (Jacobs). The players as follows: the man leaning against the vending machine unable to dignify a soda choice, the outraged citizen, the patient but stern counter attendant, the impatiently seated and impatiently standing, the police officers filling out paperwork in the back, and the lighter side of the experience, the helpful neighborhood tow.

Waiting for customers, tow truck drivers would greet the sullen faces as the arrived to the front doors. They stood and promise better prices, conversed with those outside smoking, and gave suggestions for the DMV with the fastest line. It would be naïve to interpret their presence as pure courtesy, but one would be daft not to notice the genuine concern for a fellow citizen, forced from their daily lives to such a dreadful experience. Nonetheless, the impound lot is part of city experience, and recognizes that, “It is futile to try to evade the issue of unsafe city streets by attempting to make some other features of a locality,” (Jacobs).

i apologize the image quality taken from google. I didn't have my phone nor camera when on site.

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