Whiteaker: the sights, commentaries, sounds and homeless

by Silas Valentino

On average, a car or truck will drive by every five-seconds at 3:00 p.m. on a Monday afternoon in Eugene’s homey neighborhood of Whiteaker. These autos create a symphony of creeks, shrieks and squeaks with the occasional drum solo from a double-axel big rig. The drivers range from persons of tucked-in-shirts, ty-die, plain white tees and uniform. Some drive towards the industrial sector while others travel south as if they were in an act of escape. Dust and debris are occasionally picked up by gusts of wind reminding us that even the most Nestle-sweet neighborhoods have their fifty shades of crud.

Two women walk by. One has the type of red hair that can only be created by product, not genealogy. They walk in a brisk but with purpose. “You know, I had to write everything down on paper,” said the woman with the burgundy demeanor. The two continue to walk, out of ear shot, leaving the rest of this area’s inhabitants to their thoughts, day and wonder of what required scribing. This Monday afternoon in the Whit shines with friendship as another pair of women pass by, immersed with their own conversation. “It used to be really bad before they put the fence in. Took the bushes out,” remembers the woman drinking a Pepsi Cola. Across the street, a group of weathered residents prepare to separate. Just ten yards out, the solo member remembers to bid farewell but forgets the date, “Happy New Years!” he yells.

The 52 bus en rout to The Eugene Station comes to a complete stop. The hydrolax cease, the brakes squeal and the momentum of all its passengers lunges them forward. Two teenaged passengers leave and none join. Before the bus completely departs, a burp of smog and exhaust erupts leaving this once occupied zone in a whirlwind of soot.

At 3:21 p.m. something unusual happens. There are two boxes positioned side-by-side in the far corner of the Tiny Tavern parking lot. These boxes used to be home to countless conversations, acquaintances, event planning and family reunions. They are covered in glass, glossed with advertisements and once transported both Bill and Ted on their excellent adventure. Today these boxes are a monument to the past when phone conversations were a delicacy not a entitlement. Today these boxes tend to be left untouched and eventually they’ll only exist on a Target branded ironic t-shirt. And today a suspicious-looking man rolls his change into the coin slot  “Hello! Can you hear me!” says the man with a tone not suitable for the library. “Can you hear me!” he repeats. Aggravated at the lack of communication, he bangs the black phone against the machine, shaking the few quarters living inside. The scene is similar to one found in a movie. The man leaves angrily, headed south down the road and as he walks he raises his right hand over his right ear as if he was flipping-up the hair that doesn’t exist on his head. This scene is like a scene out of a movie shown at The Bijoi.

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