I have to walk down Walnut between forty-fourth and fortieth every day; there’s really no way around it. Anywhere that i need to go is on the other side of fortieth street – school, work, transportation, and people. The trip down those four blocks is inevitable, and it greets me on any day that i dare to venture off of forty-fourth street.
The sidewalk between forty-second and forty-third is all gray slate on one side, great rectangular slabs of it all puzzled out to make a proper sidewalk. At its edges it gives way to concrete curbs on one side and front steps on the other — the concrete looking brutish against the calmly worn surface of the slabs. There are several pieces of the slate near the middle of the block that have buckled and cracked … from the wear of the years, i supposed.
The other day i crossed forty-second street on the south side of Walnut to find myself trailing a slowly moving truck. It was a pickup, large enough to do proper battle with an SUV, red dusted with grime that had survived the last day’s rain. I found myself trailing it because it was rolling down the slate sidewalk ever so slowly, and i could almost hear the rain gray slabs groaning in protest. I would, too.
The truck came to a stop halfway down the block, and as the oblivious men in coveralls stepped down from the cab my eyes fell upon the massive tires of their gleaming metal beast, and how all of the cracked panels that usually caught my eye were positioned in close proximity to them. The passengers of the vehicle seemed familiar with the weathered house they approached, greeting the man on its steps. Apparently, it wasn’t unusual for them to park there.
I was about to rail against their disrespect of what probably constitutes a historic fixture on their block just because they were too lazy to park farther away and then carry what they needed, but then i remembered that we had driven the massive yellow U-Haul truck right up to the sad front lawn of Ross’s house in August and how we nearly knocked the traffic light down while backing out due to my imperfect navigational skills.
No respect, i thought, and kept on walking.