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Interesting Places, Tight Spaces

Whew! Felt like I was on vacation. I took Friday and Saturday off last week. The Boy Scouts had a winter campout on Friday the 13th. We got there, unpacked, put up tents, and lit the fire. The rest of the evening was spent staying warm. One scout made Ramen noodles. They proceeded to put them on hot dogs. A co-leader remarked that the noodles looked like sauerkraut.

I cut sleep short at about 6 AM the following morning. I packed up and headed out. I got home by 7:30. The wife and I took the kids to her parents, then enjoyed a Valentine’s breakfast at Dixie Quick’s. It’s a charming restaurant. I guess they used to be in the Old Market in Omaha. They moved to Council Bluffs when Iowa legalized same-sex marriage. Every business has a story. Their French toast and eggs benedict were awesome.

Back to last night. I was delivering pizzas again for the first time in a week. It was busy. I made decent money: $44.

The interesting place – and topic of today’s post – hearkens back to my earlier posts about racism and housing projects in Omaha. This time it was the Pine St. Tower instead of Jackson Tower.

Pine St. Tower, in the words of a gentleman that was by the door when I arrived at a previous delivery, “ain’t no Jackson Tower.” He then told me nobody was going to rob me. Then he asked me how much money I was carrying.

Another man swore at him and told him to go away during that same exchange. Then a Sudanese man told me everyone was weird in that tower. Easily angered. Then he told me that I had no enemies.

“Because you are pizza delivery driver,” he said. I remember him. Interesting guy. He had on a bright red plaid trapper’s cap with brown fur. Apple ear buds stood out like the milky way in space against his black head and neck. He had a giant Sudanese smile with the characteristic missing teeth.

Last night’s delivery involved no such characters. I called ahead of time and let the tenant know I was on my way because I saw they were on the 10th floor. She met me downstairs. I told her the total of the bill once she let me in.

“Oh, we gotta go to the 10th floor. He’s got the money,” she said.

“Oh,” I said. “Excellent.”

We turned the corner to the elevators. An elderly cleaning lady with a crusty mop bucket and a crustier mop was fiddling with an emergency key. The emergency light was flashing for the right-hand elevators. She muttered something about a guy named Tom littered with expletives and rife with frustration. Then she pushed the up button and the door to the tiniest elevator I have ever witnessed opened up.

We fit. Barely. Crusty mop and all. Old lady got off on the 6th floor.

“Somethin’ always be happenin’ in this tower,” my customer said.

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah. Like last time, the power went out and none of the emergency lighting systems worked. It was a mess,” she said.

We got to the tenth floor. Right outside the door was the big bay window to the outside. We turned right and went all the way to the end of the hall. I exchanged pizza for money and headed out.

The elevator was delayed.

While I waited, I looked at the tile. It was in terrible shape. The halls were poorly lit. It needed paint like I need to be patient in our fight against debt. I thought to myself, “Why is the Pine St. Tower such a dump?”

Strong words. But people call this place home. And it is OHA. So is it OHA’s problem? Or my problem as a neighbor?

The door finally opened. Two nice maintenance guys were in the teeny tiny elevator waiting. The car stopped at almost every floor on the way down because of the emergency setting on the other car.

Omaha Housing Authority projects: interesting places with tight spaces. God Bless America, and DIE DEBT DIE.



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