Sunday, May 01, 2011

Petition For a Splendiforous, Humungifying Car Wash

A typical Mobil gas station. This one is locat...Image via Wikipedia
 by James Jarvis
from My Arcology

    The owner of the gas station where I work as a part-time stock boy, propane dispenser and bum bouncer heard that I used to a political speech writer and wants me to write a position paper for a rezoning hearing he is facing. He wants to build a car wash in the vacant lot next door to his gas station in Gardena a few blocks north of El Camino College in a narrow pocket of crack motels on Crenshaw (which is wedged between two quiet blue color neighborhoods) and some of the bordering neighbors are giving him some resistance.

    The neighbors already have crack heads, streetwalkers and bums cavorting up and down the wide and heavily trafficked Crenshaw Boulevard which divides the two quiet neighborhoods, the last thing they want is a bunch of illegal immigrant car washers, generally labeled ‘Mexicans’, playing their loud boom boxes in a car wash as they work or hanging around the neighborhood after work, sitting on walls or leaning up against their fences drinking 40-ouncers and whistling at women as they drive by.

    My employer wants me to point out in the paper I write for him that he has a proven history of bringing good businesses into bad neighborhoods. Businesses which discourage, rather than encourage, the criminal element in these bad neighborhoods. He pointed out to me today that the previous gas station which operated where he now operates an Arco franchise was robbed on a regular basis. My employer knows this for a fact because he used to own a Denny’s-style restaurant on the vacant lot next door and the previous gas station owner was ‘always coming into the restaurant shot or robbed’.

    My ‘career’ at the Arco started four months ago when the gas station manager, a petite young immigrant from the Philippines, finally relented from my daily pesterings and recommended me to the owner for the part-time job.

It was the height of the 2001 mini-recession when I was hired to stock the beer shelves at the Arco gas station. Thousands of nearby aircraft workers had recently been laid off, causing a ripple effect of layoffs in other local businesses, including mine, so there was no shortage of applicants for the job.

    My own business, freelance gypsy cab driver for any escort agency who would trust me enough to drive their hookers to their appointments, had gone sour several months earlier. It had taken me longer than it should have to recognize that when money gets tight in an economy, one of the first discretionary expenditures to be cut out of the average man’s budget is $200-an-hour hookers.

    Even before the mini-recession of 2001, the freelance gypsy cab escort delivery business was suffering a steady market decline so severe that it contributed to my homelessness eighteen months earlier. Yes, I was a homeless freelance gypsy cab escort driver.

    In retrospect, I clearly see now that it was the internet that did my business in. It gave them freedom from their pimps, the escort agencies, and from their pimps’ collection agents, the escort agency drivers. More and more Los Angeles hookers were discovering that they could cut ALL the middlemen out and keep their ill-gotten earnings to themselves and their drug dealers. No more 50-50 split with the escort agencies. They could run their own ads on the internet. No more gypsy cab driver fees. They could drive themselves.

    I had stayed much too long in a softening market. So long, that I ended up bone-dry broke in a crack motel that I could only afford by taking in another homeless man, a schizophrenic occasional movie extra, as a roommate to split the rent.

    I was a mess after 18 months of homeless gypsy cab driving. I was reluctant to go back to the comparatively mundane world of straight employment but desperate for cash flow. These are the qualities I brought to the Arco manager in my job application there, but since I live on the other side of the vacant lot in a crack motel and had been coming in to the store as a customer nearly every afternoon for my ritual ‘morning’ coffee for a about a year and had been laying on the charm as best as a  crack motel resident can that whole year, she must’ve figured, ‘What the heck.” Better a devil you DO know than a devil you don’t.

    She hired me in November of 2001, just in time to save me and my roommate from having to go live under the freeway overpasses again. Now, four months later, the owner of the Arco wants me to write a history of the gas station to present at his car wash re-zoning hearing.

    In reviewing my laptop journal entries concerning my experiences with the Arco, first as a customer, then as a part-time employee, I’m not so sure I’m the right man for the job. But maybe I am. Maybe I’m exactly the right person to explain the benefits of minimum wage employment in an economically distressed patch of neighborhood that I have come to know as my American Arcology.

    I hadn't written anything yet because I couldn't believe that any multi-million dollar project would REALLY rest on the shoulders of a minimum wage beer stocker. Today, the owner changed it to a petition and asked to see it tomorrow. Shit! This is the equivalent of a mid-term essay assigned today and due tomorrow! Shit!

    I procrastinated all night on this petition thingee because it's not really my cup of tea. It's kinda boring to me, like writing a college essay, but 10 minutes ago I finally decided I hadda give the Arco owner something tomorrow, so here it is:

PETITION TO REVITALIZE THE NEIGHBORHOOD
    The parcel of land at 155?? South Crenshaw Blvd. has stood vacant ?? years. Vacant lots attract an unwanted element to this neighborhood: vagrants and drug addicts.

    For the last three years, all that stood on the lot was a large ‘For Sale’ sign. Apparently, no developer has seen any merit in investing millions of dollars in a project located next door to a known crack motel.

    The owner of the Arco franchise on the other side of this vacant lot has come up with a plan to solve this problem AND bring jobs and increased tax base contributions to the city and neighborhood.

    Mr. ?????? has a track record of bringing good businesses to troubled locations. The Arco franchise was at one time a gas station which attracted armed robberies because of the way it was managed. Since Mr. ?????? took over operation of the station, armed robberies, and therefore danger to local residents from fleeing bandits, has dropped to nil.

    Gaylon ??????? wants to invest over a million dollars of his own money to build a first class Hand Wash Car Wash on the vacant and troublesome parcel of land.

    Mr. ??????’s plan would vastly improve the aesthetic appearance of this eyesore vacant lot. It would increase the tax base contribution to this neighborhood. It would provide jobs to an economically depressed area. It would encourage OTHER prospective investors to take a second look at Gardena as an area for commercial development. And, it would discourage the unwanted element from using a poorly lit vacant lot for their criminal enterprises.

If you would like to see the revitalization of this neighborhood begin with Mr. ??????’s plan to develope the eyesore vacant lot at 155?? S. Crenshaw Blvd., please sign this petition.


WHADDYA THINK? Would YOU sign it? Any suggestions?

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