Thursday, June 30, 2016

Standpipe: Delivering Water In Flint

“Have a blessed day” I’m told over and over.  The people who say this seem too bereft of excess blessing to justify such lavish generosity.  I’m always feel grateful, reliably sheepish driving away. 

Standpipe: Delivering Water To Flint

A man waits for us in front of his apartment building fifty yards distant from the nearest parking space.  I called ahead so we wouldn’t have to search for the unit in this confusing warren of identical buildings.  He needs ten cases, apologizes.  His place is on the top floor. I load six cases vertically on the hand truck, my partner and the man carry two cases apiece and we set off across a parched expanse of weedy grass.  We stack the water on the stoop, use one case to prop open the door.  I ask my partner to stay with the truck and the man and I lug two cases each up six flights to the third floor.  We swelter in the stairwell, airless as a tomb.  The man pauses on the second floor landing on his way back down.  His breathing is shallow, color bad.  I ask if he is all right.  He nods but says nothing.  I ask him to wait by his door while I bring up the remaining six cases.  That done, the man thanks me.  Both of us are winded, find it hard to talk.  I take care to remove my work glove before shaking his hand. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Standpipe: Delivering Water In Flint

I deliver two cases of water to a house.  While I am away from the vehicle, a man speaks to my young partner through the open passenger side window.  He was seen loitering as we pulled to the curb. The man walks up, registers a complaint of arm pain due to excessive masturbation and asks for a medical opinion.  He takes a moment to consider the young man’s guarded prognosis, wanders off, disappears into a neighboring house.  Maybe he mistook the Red Cross truck for an ambulance I say, took us for paramedics.  My partner, nineteen or twenty, just laughs, shakes his head and resumes managing text traffic on his mobile device.