The Graffiti Squad in Action
For most of my life I've been a renter, and as such have brushed off the travails of landlords and homeowners as none of my business. However, having recently become a homeowner, I have suddenly found myself sensitive to the demands of boilers, water heaters, insulation, and our tenants. Nevertheless, I found myself turning into a veritable Mr. Wilson
when a kid tagged the wall in front of my house with his indecipherable and apparently immovable signature.
Fearing the wrath of neighbors, who might think that I was responsible for allowing our street to take its first step onto the slide of Skid Row, I scrubbed and water-jetted and otherwise succeeded only in attractively highlighting the graffiti by bleaching the wall around it.
But, to my surprise, help was at hand. I found out that each borough in New York City has a graffiti squad
. All you have to do is fill out a waiver form
, and sometime between April and November a crew will come along and remove the graffiti. For free. Well, that sounded a whole lot better than scrubbing. Sure enough, to my astonishment, one morning in early May I walked and saw that the graffiti was gone—with no damage to the wall.
I was so pleased at this example of government actually working that I called up 3-1-1 (the New York City hotline) and asked to register my pleasure. I was transferred to the "comments desk," where a nice lady told me that, far from it being unusual for people to call up saying "thank you" rather than complaining, she actually got quite a few calls in which New Yorkers said that they appreciated what city government was doing for them. Who'd have thunk it?! We're talking about New York
here. We're talking Brooklyn
> They invented
Apparently, the graffiti kid was caught in the act of self-expression soon after he tagged my wall. I was told this by two young police officers who came round to my house when I called the station. I assumed I would have to report this quality of life issue as part of my civic duty. The police officers told me I didn't have to bother unless I wanted to claim something on insurance. That transaction concluded, they asked me whether there was anything else they could assist me with, and that, if not, they hoped I would have a very nice day.