It is five thirty in the morning and no one is in the new city plaza. No one except Joshua. His broom brushes over the cement in short, strong strokes, pushing the previous evening’s trash into manageable piles. Stale beer, old cigarettes, and half eaten hot dogs fill his nose. Spilled tzatziki sticks to his shoes. He pays it no attention as he continues his solitary task. He has this wide open, now empty space, to himself. Time to lose himself in the simple nature of his job and earn a little for his own fun.
He could join them on Friday nights down here. The concerts are free, and there is plenty of cheap street meat to go with the pricier, more trendy eateries lining the plaza. Crowds are not really his thing though. He prefers sitting behind his apartment building throwing a barbecue with his neighbors. They can hear the racket, five blocks away, from the flop house they call home. Why fight the rush of people when you can sit and listen from your lawn chair, a PBR in one hand and a chicken leg in the other?
The occasional early morning wanderer catches sight of him. Once in a while he wonders what they think of the scrawny, middle-aged “bum” pushing a broom. Not to often though. They cannot know him anymore than he can know them. Joshua may not have gone to college, but he tends to wax philosophical. His neighbors tease him for it, for his books, but they mean well, and occasionally even borrow a book.
He comes from a world different from those he cleans up after. Upper middle class kids burning through their Abercrombie and Fitch, or other such employer, pay checks because mom and dad footed the bill for college, including their apartment. Some are mom and dad, slumming in the city, if you can call it that in this gentrified neighborhood. Joshua learned about that in one of his books.
He will never go to school, he cannot afford it, and at his age, he is not sure how he would cope with it. It is no big deal though. He earns his money, pays his keep, reads his books and enjoys his Friday nights with his neighbors. What more could he ask for?