Sunday, June 26, 2016

Standpipe: Delivering Water In Flint

The front door.  Every visit begins here, brisk knocking, announcing your business simply and clearly.  Unless access to the porch is blocked by makeshift barrier, debris, pit bull chained in the yard, or stairs too decrepit for weight bearing.  A surprising number of houses have functioning doorbells.  Steel security gates resonate poorly when rapped with the knuckles.  Signage is common:  Beware of Dog.  Use Side Door.  No Trespassing.  Biker Lives Here.  Jesus Saves, Loves, Watches Over or Died For You.  No Solicitation.  Neighborhood Watch.  Area Under Surveillance.  Bill and Helen Van Cortland.  The Samuelson’s.  Security By Smith and Wesson.  Beware, Pits.  For Rent.  For Sale.  Iconography abounds:  Stars and stripes.  Stars and bars.  Genesee County Sheriff’s Association.  UAW.  Flapping Christmas decorations.  Security company logos.  Porches are made of cracked slab concrete, buckled tongue and groove flooring, curling plank decking or delaminating plywood covered in powdery Astroturf or old paint, original color visible only at the fringes.  Most of them list, support wobbly railing hung with stiff gray throw rugs, top plank peppered with cigarette burns and bird droppings.  Stairs pitch toward the street, treads broken or missing.  Porches are limbo for household debris destined for the curb.  Toys, apparel, appliances, plastic packaging, wet carpeting, fast food wrapper, cardboard boxes, mops, unopened packs of disposable diapers near to burst, food scraps, pet food cans, plastic milk crates, returnable bottles, and, of course, empty recyclable water bottles in bags, bins or roaming free.  All of it mingling with propane grills, folding chairs, makeshift tables, water by the case, recliners, pet crates and sand filled coffee cans spiked with cigarette butts.  Side entrances by contrast, are Spartan in their simplicity, utilitarian in aspect.  Yet, the front door draws like a magnet, common portal to home and hearth. 

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