In my first few months on this planet, I spent my days lounging around in my Moms "hot tub". My father used to wait until my mother and I were comfortably drifting off into a gentle sleep to make his move. He'd cautiously place his hands on her swollen belly and give it a good shake. I would awaken. My father would then slip into a comfortable slumber leaving me to kick the crap out of my mother, thus keeping her awake. But I got even. I was a colicy baby. HeeHee!
Unwittingly my father had created a creature of the night. As soon as the sun slips below the horizon my body kicks into gear and I am more awake then than I have been all day.
Last evening I needed to get out. No longer having to play beat the bus, allows me some much needed morning time sleep. And to keep from wanting to play beat the kids (not that I ever would!) I need a bit of time to relax and wander after dark to clear my head. That is how I found myself wandering the street at 9:00 at night.
As I was walking I was taken back to a time when you could go for a walk and find pennies periodically discarded along the street. Many dropped, but not considered worthwhile to pick up. As a child I used to love to collect them. The challenge of beating my previous record for the most pennies found in one trip was the game I played.
On this walk though the neighbourhood however, I had not found even a single one! What happend to all of the haphazardly discarded pennies that used to ocassionally lined the streets? I suppose I need to look at the makeup of my neighbourhood to figure this one out.
We own a small bungalow in a neighbourhood in which many older couples have lived and raised their families for the past 40 years. Many now in their 70's and 80's. These people tend to appreciate the value of money more than their younger counterparts and wouldn't leave a lost penny unlooked for. For them it's worth potentially breaking a hip whilst trying to reclaim their lost gem.
There are a few (very few) young families which also live amongst their geriatric friends. They don't have extra pennies lining their pockets. They have children to raise and use up every single one. They can't afford to leave dropped pennies along the street.
There are single fellows here and there in the neighbourhood. Yes, I say fellows since the majority are indeed male. They don't use pennies. They are of the modern computerized age and barely know what a penny even looks like! They use plastic.
There is the gay couple on the corner. They don't go onto the street. They move only between their front door and car. Their visitors do the same. They have their own little utopia that doesn't go past their front yard. They couldn't possibly leave pennies on the street, since I don't think that they've ever gone there outside of in their vehicle.
There are the drug dealers and grow-ops that think that if they set up in a "retirement" area that they won't be noticed. They don't have pennies. They only deal in paper money. I don't see any cash left on the pavement. And if I did, I would probably tend to leave it there for fear of being shot when trying to pick it up.
So what was I finding on the street? Sadly, I was seeing the decline of a once beautifully kept city. Never before had so many popcan tabs been visible. Had these been pennies I'd have beaten my record for sure. Cigarette butts aplenty, even though smoking has now gone out of style. Torn papers, weeds poking though the asphalt at an alarming rate. Leaves and bits of paper. Chalk drawings from one of the very few children unfortunate enough to live in "Grannyhood." Sticks, stones, rocks and boulders. Oh wait. That's not a boulder. That's the only part of the street that's not a pothole. Bird poop.
They used to care enough to sweep the streets. Now it's done but once a year in the Spring whether it needs it or not, because of cutbacks. It needs it! Believe me! We have to after all make sure that we use our tax dollars for more important things such as funding and forgiving debts accumulated by special interest groups for their parades. Foot bridges to save university students from having to walk a few meters to the other bridge. A light rail system running to and from the least populated portions of the city. The list of "necessities" goes on. They have cut back on the non-necessary tasks such as picking up the garbage on the streets, getting rid of graffiti, sweeping and cleaning the streets and culling the weeds.
It was with these thoughts whirling around inside my head, and with my eyes firmly glued to the ground that I walked into my neighbour. Built like tower in height and girth with a stare cold enough to freeze the melting ice caps she says,
"You didn't sweep my driveway after you mowed the lawn the other day."
Without looking up, because I might miss that one penny that I so desparately crave, I respond, "cutbacks."
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