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Serving “Hard” Time

May 31st, 2009 · No Comments · Personal

So after I was sentenced to two days of community service, I had to choose what days I would do them on. I really wanted to put it off as long as possible, but they only scheduled it 2-3 weeks in advance, maximum. So I had to pull out my iTouch to check my schedule, and found that there was only one option – May 29th and 30th. The 29th I only had one class to coach, so it was easily covered, and on the 30th I was doing nothing anyways. The weekends before and after were both filled with important stuff (my sister’s graduation and my friend’s engagement party).

My only experience with community service was seeing people in orange saftey vests working on the side of the highway, picking up trash while a prison bus idled nearby and armed guards stood watch over the group. I was pretty sure this wasn’t going to be me, but I wasn’t entirely sure. So when the instruction sheet said specifically “NO electronic devices (including cell phones)” I got a bit panicky. No, I don’t need it to update my status – I simply don’t want to be out of touch like that in case of any family- or work-related emergency. Plus I would also need to be in touch with my friend who I was staying with in case I needed to get back into the apartment. So the morning of the first day was a bit stressful. I had decided to hop off the subway at Penn Station and put the phone in a locker – so I could at least have it after I was finished to call my friend. I get to Penn Station and find there are no lockers there. I very nearly ended up hiding my phone in a remote corner of K-mart in the station before I finally convinced myself that it wouldn’t matter. Everyone has a phone these days, I couldn’t be the only one that would bring on.

I made it to the muster point before 8am – I had brought a book to read so that was good for passing the time while I waited. After signing in and presenting my papers and ID, I helped unload some supplies from a truck and load other supplies on to another truck. This took like 10 minutes. Then it was back to sitting. Then I got assigned a work crew and piled into a pickup with three others and the guy looking after us. We drove around downtown looking for parks to clean, but since the weather had been so crummy yesterday and was still crummy today, no one had really been out to mess them up. Finally at around 9:30am we stopped at one park to pull weeds from the ground, which was wet and made the job easy. About an hour of that and we piled back into the truck to drive around some more. Finally the guy gave up and dumped us at the Union Square subway station around 11:30. Day one: Done.

Day two was almost just as easy. As before, I showed up on time (no mean feat for me. It is 8am in the morning we’re talking here) and was assigned a crew to work with. We went to a park and after sitting around for a bit inside the park house I was assigned the task of emptying all the trash bins around the park grounds with another guy. We had a cart to push the bags around in until it was full, then we’d dump them by the curb and go back to fill more. The catch was that we didn’t have a lot of bags, so we couldn’t just change them all. Instead we had to dump the cans into half-full bags to fill them up, and only change out bags when we had to. So that made it a little extra tedious, but overall no big deal. Good think I read my sheet that said to bring work gloves. I felt kinda bad for the other guy. Okay, no I didn’t. Anyways, we did that for about and hour and half before we were done. We walked a few blocks to another, smaller park and did the same deal. Then we piled into the truck and drove around to two more parks that actually needed cleaning (a few more didn’t). We were dropped off on Canal Street at around 2pm. Community service: Done.

And if you think I got off pretty easy, then I have to share the story of my friend Jason, who got caught running from the police on his motorcycle cause he got fed up with being stopped for no reason other than being a black guy on a motorcycle. He had like 3 months of community service handed to him, at some construction site. He shows up on his first day and the foreman doesn’t know what to do with him. He has all his guys working on it and doesn’t want to take anyone off a task to give it to Jason. So he tells him that he’ll sign all his papers and he never has to come back.

Yes, I was hoping I too would be that fucking lucky. But I suppose I had a little bit of luck. My sheet stated the hours as being from 8am – 4pm.

While I didn’t carry a knife with me during community service, I did have one on me while traveling through the city otherwise. NYPD can suck it.

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