February 14, 2013

The porteros

Almost every apartment building has one. Office buildings usually do too it seems. A doorman, or, here in BA, el portero. A super of sorts. A friendly face, sometimes. A guy who watches the building, the street, and the other porteros.

And before most of us get up in the morning, an army of porteros is at work cleaning the sidewalk and driveway in front of the buildings. Sometime after 6:00, and certainly by 7:00, the hoses and brooms come out. In Buenos Aires, the sidewalks need cleaning every morning; the dog poop and garbage that collects through the day is amazing. This is a city of dog owners who haven't quite picked up the global memo about picking up. It's one of the truly disgusting things about this wonderful city.

Some larger buildings have video cameras and a bank of monitors for security. Our building is a somewhat simpler operation. In fact, most of the time our building of twenty apartments shares the portero with the building next door. He is a big, friendly guy. And like his companeros, not so friendly when having his photo taken, which your faithful correspondent discovered early one morning. The matter, a trivial issue to be sure, is now working its way through the Argentine legal system.

Washing down the street itself is important for a portero too, but only in front of his building.

All of this cleaning seems to happen every day. Weekends and holidays too. It's an important job and all of us should be grateful for the work of  the porteros, here in BA, and everywhere else it happens too.

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