Today I met up with a smile. One I hadn’t seen for a while. “Amanda” (I do not know her real name) and I approached each other on the Ring Road, in Belmopan. She had a trash receptacle in one hand, and an easy-grab tool fashioned ”kisskiss” style, in the other. Its jaws were elongated ears. The debris she snatched from the drain verge was dropped into the bag. I was on my way home from an early morning walk. Not many people were about.
The picture presented was arresting. Amanda was short, not much above 4 feet. Belmopan’s drains are 5 feet deep in that area. Her “kisskiss” was the length of a man’s arm. The verge drops off sharply to the drain below and her challenge was to collect the detritus that lay there from the previous night’s revelries. The smoke escaping from a passing car’s weary exhaust system momentarily distracted her.
I believe, we both saw the chips bag near the bottom at the same time, and I slowed my pace to see how she would get to it. But Amanda was both surefooted and intrepid. No one perhaps ever told her about CG, and how to counterbalance: no one had to. She re-stanced herself for the task, made sure of her foothold on the wet grass, and gingerly lowered her kisskiss. When she straightened up I was just a few feet away from her.
“Good morning,” I greeted her brightly in Spanish. She merely glanced in my direction.
Good mornin’,” she deadpanned me, speaking in English.
I would not be put off so easily, not with my cheery Spanish, the realization she spoke English and having just witnessed her agile feat.
“That was quite remarkable,” I went on, nodding towards the drain, the kisskiss, and the trash bag. “You’re doing a fantastic job, ma’am” I said.
She must have caught the earnestness in my voice then. She had just “grabbed” an empty cigarette pack and was about to bag it. Instead, she wagged the kisskiss about, the cigarette pack held firmly in its ears.
“Thank you,” she said, and smiled.