Being thankful for things you don't always notice

Leaves filling up the street.

Leaves filling up the street.

I was complaining to my father over the holiday weekend about all the leaves in the streets. "They should keep street cleaning going a few weeks more," I said. "Look at all the leaves!" Everywhere you look, leaves in the gutter, along the curbs, under cars. I watched some people bag their leaves, others pushed the leaves into the street. Now what?

I was thinking about coming out with my own rake and doing my street. The hard part is finding the daylight time (and frankly, the motivation to rake the whole street).

And then this morning, I saw the city's solution. A large effort by the Department of Public Works (DPW) out with a large team of employees using blowers and rakes to pull the leaves away from the curbs, from under the cars and out in the street. 

DPW employees working to clear the streets of leaves.

Behind the teams were trucks with vacuums collecting the leaves with the largest vacuum hose I've ever seen. I saw at least four trucks and more than a dozen people working to clean up leaves.

The largest vacuum I've ever seen.

I walked up to a pair of DPW employees and interrupted them while they worked. The first fellow, Edward, was out in the street raking leaves from between and under cars, and saw me walking up and gave me a smile (which says wonders about his positive personality, since he didn't know me at all -- I could have been walking over to complain or be negative). He pulled his earphones out when I approached. 

"Hey man, I just want to say thanks for doing all this," I said, gesturing at the leaves. "It's cold and wet today, and I appreciate you working here."

He gave me a lopsided grin, likely wondering what I was playing at, and thanked me back. He introduced me to Jerry (his supervisor I think?) who kept his leaf blower loudly idling when I spoke with him. It was a bit comically awkward, with me shouting with my hands around my mouth, "I wanted to say... I WANTED TO SAY THANK YOU!" I shouted around the sound, pointing at the leaves.  

I explained to them that I wrote a local blog and wanted to share their hard work with neighbors. They seemed pretty bemused by the whole thing, and agreed to take a photo. 

Edward and Jerry, from DPW.

So thanks Edward, Jerry and everyone of DPW's staff who were out raking and vacuuming on a cold, wet November day. It may be your job, but it's really appreciated.

Drew Schneider

Local DC blogger in Petworth, Washington DC.



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