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    Community Service, Community Pride

    Well, it's time to put a wrap on my experience as one of "Naughty Nine" health care activists who was arrested for sitting on Jodi Rell's bearskin rug at the State Capitol last month. Tuesday I spent my day of "community service" for the City of Hartford to help me mend my wayward ways. I got to wear a navy blue vest that read "Community Service, Community Pride" which basically announced to the world that if this were 1776 I would be locked in the "pillory", like the poor sap in the picture.  Instead, I was issued a "rake", a multi-spronged device Pillory.jpgequipped with a long wooden handle designed to collect leaves and rubbish from grass. Others were issued items called "brooms" and "shovels" and together our group of fifteen or so were sent out into the 95-degree heat to clean the streets of Hartford. Not all the streets, mind you, just the ones where our tour guide--an African-American social worker in a Jesus shirt following us around in a maroon minivan--saw fit to take us. Or should I say, herd us.

    We started out along Washington Street and for our first project we cleaned the lawn of the Post Office. (Boy, are mailmen slobs!) From then on it was up Ward Street, down Broad Street, along Affleck Street, etc. picking up the trash of the fine citizens of Hartford. It wasn't long before we learned to shuffle our feet like the downtrodden workers of the film Metropolis, and before long we began to establish our own sort of prison comraderie. There were "Ashley" and "Brittany", two 16-year-old white chicks with brooms who were doing "hard time" (a week of community service) for shoplifting. There was "Clyde", a jovial black man with baseball cap who got pegged for public "grinding" (you can figure that out on your own). There was "Smiley", a white guy who I think was serving time for smoking spleefs (along with half of the other people, I'm sure). Nobody asked, so I didn't tell anyone I was there for protesting at the State Capitol. I thought it would be like walking into a biker bar and ordering a chocolate milk.  Anyway, we all survived our day in the roasting sun and have since been released back into society, all except one hispanic dude who couldn't stop complaining and got sent back to the judge for throwing pennies at "Veronica",  a cute black girl with a pretty big mouth and an attitude to match "who didn't take no jive from no one". (I don't think she said "jive". I think I got that from Jimmy Walker.) So the dumbass hispanic guy got more time instead of just putting up and shutting up. "Just do your time, man, just do your time."

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