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A Friendly Neighbor: First Van Wash

Updated: Jun 14, 2020

The most random experiences can sprout out of mundane happenings on the sunny summer streets of Brooklyn. On this occasion I was sitting in the van waiting for the alternate side parking rules to expire at 10:30am when a met an interesting neighborhood character. It's not hugely significant event but it's one of those experiences that I won't forget.

Getting out of work early one Friday I jumped on the opportunity to park directly in front of my apartment all weekend which would make the van conversion so much more convenient than being on Flatbush and having a mile walk. After a few minutes of waiting with the van windows rolled down letting a small breeze cool me down on an excruciatingly hot day an elderly man appears at the window and pokes his head right into the van. The first thing he said before "hello" or any kind of introduction was extremely uncomfortable I was lost for words. I will not repeat it but if you see me I'll tell you if it won't get weird. Sometimes the streets around me get real weird. Anyway I tried to move the conversion in a new direction and he ended up spending 45 minutes at my window telling me fun facets about his life. He has been in the same building next to mine for over 30 years, he immigrated from Haiti and has never been back, he was a surveyor for a while, and loves talking to everyone on the streets. He mostly complained about the punks on the street that we're up to no good.

As our conversation was progressing the superintendent of his building came out and began washing his car which was parked directly in front of the van. That gave me an idea! Since this man knew everyone on the block I asked him if he could ask his super if I could use the hose, he said "sure!" The man asked the super who appeared to say a firm no, but the man grabbed the hose anyway and started spraying down my van. I hopped out, got my bucket, soap, and sponge and began to wash the van. The van had never been washed since I bought it and a soapy 15 minutes later it was sparkling white again, as sparkling white as decade old paint can look.

I tried to offer the man some money for his time and help but he wouldn't take it (he later tracked me down and demanded $20 dollars to which I said I would get him next time...)

The man's name is Vladimir, Vladimir from Haiti, and my new friend.

He even tries to save me a parking space now!

Meeting your friendly helpful neighbors: 10/10 would reccomend

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