Sunday, July 5, 2009

Post #6 - Tales from Community Service

I guess it's time for me to start catching you up on community service stories. This one dates from early March on what was my eighth of forty days of community service (of which I only have five left).

A lot of people showed up for community service that morning - thirty one. Up until then, at least on days I went, there had never been more than fifteen. The increase was mostly due to the cockfighting bust that netted 148 arrests. (Since March, the number of people showing up for community service has grown. Thirty is no longer unexpected. Sometimes a dozen of them will be women.)

Seven of us in attendance that morning were women. Rather than put all of us to work cleaning the courthouse (the usual duty of women on community service), our supervisor put all but two on road detail - picking up trash on the side of the road.

I was actually pleased to get a break from the tedium of the usual janitorial chores. Fact is, there just isn't enough work at the courthouse to fill the day. Everything is usually done by lunch and then you have to pretend to be busy for the next few hours. As the number of women assigned to the courthouse increases, so do the hours spent pretending to be busy. So it was a relief that I was being sent out on road detail.

In addition to the bright orange vests all community service workers are required to wear, we were each given a bunch of bright orange garbage bags and those grabby things that old people use to get stuff off of high shelves. Six workers set off on foot to the east, me and five others headed west. My crew consisted of five women and one man. Two of the women took one side of the road and the rest of us took the other.

I'd met the guy before on other days I'd come for community service. We both own goats and chickens and have discussed them over smoke breaks. I'd never met the woman before. She was about my age and eight months pregnant with her eighth child. I was surprised they would put a woman so far along in a pregnancy on road detail but it really couldn't have been any worse for her or the baby than the Marlboro Reds she was smoking.

It was a beautiful sunny day and we leisurely strolled along, picking up trash and engaging in conversation. It really wasn't a bad way to spend the morning. Best find of the morning was a brand new dog leash with the price tag still attached. Weirdest find was two ziploc bags full of (presumably) dog shit - about a mile apart from eachother.

A couple hours into our walk we came across a small business. The pregnant woman wanted to go inside and see if they had a soda machine (or "drink box" as she called it). She set down her trash bag and grabby thing, took off her vest and dropped it alongside. While she went looking for a drink, me and the man sat down on a nearby fence for a smoke.

After she came back (no drink box but they did have a bathroom), we all had one more smoke. When we got ready to get back to work, the pregnant lady discovered her vest was gone. Where could it possibly be? We were only sitting maybe 15 feet away from where she'd left it. A glance across the street solved the mystery.

There, in the front yard of a house, was a medium-sized black dog wearing a bright orange vest. The dog had crossed the street, stolen her vest and somehow managed to get its neck through one of the armholes.

Fortunately, that was the same day I day I started carrying my camera to community service.

After a few hours, one of the community service supervisors picked us up in the van and took us back to the courthouse for our lunch break. There's a couple picnic tables across the parking lot that we're allowed to use for breaks.

Just as we were getting ready to head back out, we were told we had to stay at the courthouse. Turns out someone told the judge that women were picking up trash on the side of the road and he sent word down from on high that women should never be picking up trash on the side of the road. I'm not sure what the reasoning is behind this but nobody ever questions Judge Hardass.

So all the women from the road crew had to stand around the courthouse for the rest of the day, trying to look busy. And that's how yours truly came to be one of the last women to work road detail in Randolph County.

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