Cleaning Up a Street

In the last blog I wrote I said that I live in the kind of neighborhood where I see prostitutes all the time. Several years ago I did something about them getting too close to my house. I’ve got to write this even if it’s only interesting to my future generations.

There used to be a patch of woods across the street from me which made a little side street a little too private, considering the kind of privacy some folks around here wanted. I would find all kinds of icky stuff on the street when I was walking and jogging that these people had thrown out the car windows.

One night my down the street neighbors, who are also my parents, called me and told me they had a call in to the shift sergeant and he was on his way to their house and I was welcome to come down and talk to him, too. There had been yet another car parked out there in the dark and they were fed up.

My neighbors, who are also my parents, had saved a couple of plastic gallon bags of the icky stuff, along with beer bottles and drug paraphernalia I had picked up and they were ready to lay out the situation and show him the evidence. I didn’t want to miss this. I wanted to tell him about it myself.

You wouldn’t believe his response. He said we had to call every time there is a car parked out there. It didn’t matter that a lot of times it happened at hours that most people are sleeping. And I couldn’t see the street from my house. The cops would not make a turn and go ONE block off a busy street that they drive down all day and all night to keep an eye on this problem. My parents pleaded with him. I told him, “I’m tired of stepping over this mess when I’m working out.” He said, “Ok” and turned back to my pleading parents. Two more times I quietly told him I was tired of stepping over this mess and the second time when he said, “I heard you, ma’am” again, I thought he didn’t hear me at all and he should know that cops need to pay more attention to the quiet person off to the side than they do the ones who are making the most noise. Those quiet ones do things.

The next day was a Saturday and I got out there with a rake, plastic garbage bags, a lawnmower, and clippers. I picked up, mowed, raked and clipped. It took all day. The next day I got my dad, my husband and a son to cut down a tree that was blocking a street light. I didn’t know whose property the woods were and I didn’t care. They wouldn’t care or even know if we cut down a tree on the corner and like I said, I was tired of stepping over this mess.

As I looked at the results of all the hours spent on cleaning up, I noticed it would be too easy for cars to pull off the edge of the street and pull up right next to the woods. So, I fixed that, too. I went to the hardware store and bought one by two’s and had another son cut them into stakes with pointed ends, and then to his stunned embarrassment, I got him to help me hammer all those stakes in the ground along the edge of the pavement.

Then to finish it off, I painted two signs and posted them at the ends of the nice, cleaned up block. The signs said, “Neighborhood under surveillance. Take Johns elsewhere.” It was evening by the time I got to the signs and when my poor embarrassed son and I were putting them up a car turned onto the street, stopped suddenly, backed up and turned around and drove away.

The next thing I did was I wrote a letter to the shift sergeant telling him what I did and that if I found anything at all on the pavement that shouldn’t be there, I would pick it up, spray paint a circle where I found it, and write to him again. For a few weeks all was quiet, then I found something. When I wrote to the shift sergeant I told him to tell his men not to shoot the lady in camo. I was going to be out in the woods in camo watching that street. No one came by and there were only two or three other times that I found anything icky on the pavement. Mission accomplished.