July 18, 2006
I love the fact that Baltimore is grungy enough to have a sizable homeless population, but quirky enough that they hang their shirts to dry after washing them in the river.
There are two sites I've experienced in Baltimore that I've not seen in other cities. First, many of the larger streets have medians. Yes, I've seen those in other cities. But in Baltimore, there's almost always someone selling something or raising money along the median. This is by no means an inner-city phenomenon. In the 'burbs one sees cheerleaders with buckets fundraising for a trip to some competition. In the city sellers offer flowers, cold water, newspapers ranging from the Baltimore Sun to Nation of Islam, and kids raising money for team uniforms. To combat this open-air market, the city is now building medians with a steep incline from the curb to a narrow strip on top with plants and trees. With nowhere safe for the hucksters to perch, the medians become anonymous and orderly. Has anyone seen this in other areas? Or is this just another quirk of this quirkalicious town?
The other curiosity (as in, 'honey, why ARE they doing that?') are the many people who stand along the street one arm raised with a flapping hand. This was a great party question for the first three years we lived here. My boss thought they were all drug dealers. I thought it was Baltimore's hitchhiking wave. Jrex refused to speculate. A few months ago, the mystery was solved. I gave a ride to a new guy who's been coming to church. He's in a two year rehab program in the city and grew up in Baltimore. We passed a young guy with his hand in the air and I asked C. if he knew what it was about. "Yeah, that's called 'hacking'. It's like a cab service. You gotta be careful though cause once you agree to terms, you have to go where they want you to go. You can get caught up in some bad stuff that way, but you gotta do it once you agree. Them young girls is the worst. Don't go picking them up cause you don't know what trouble you might get into."
I've been trying to take pictures of both phenomenon, but you know the rule--don't shoot and drive (ha! Sadly a neglected rule in this town). I got some scary looks when I stopped to take the tshirt picture. Knowing how violent Baltimore can be, taking a picture of a hacker might not be advisable.
What are the quirks where you live? Anything that makes you shake your head and say, "Only here in rural Connecticut..."?
Posted by OTRgirl