The Sole of Houston: Working for You

Looks like David Beebe and my expose on the epidemic of stray shopping carts is bearing fruit. Here’s what the Chronicle says H.P.D. is doing about the problem:

“’There are more shopping carts than bushes out there,’ said Lt. Richard Zajac of the Houston Police Department's South Central Patrol Division, which this year launched a special detail to curb cart theft in hopes of stopping more serious crime.

Plainclothes officers hit the streets to see who's pushing carts. In their first 30 shifts, a milestone hit last week, officers rounded up more than 1,000 shopping carts.

I’d be willing to bet Beebe and I could find more than that in a hell of a lot less time. I know of two stash-spots right now where there are probably about 60 total. Some apartment complexes have quasi-official designated parking spots for the contraptions.

But those are for your more or less law-abiding trolley pilots – the immigrant housewives going from supermarket to apartment with kids in tow. H.P.D. is cracking down on the other breed – the scrap metal thieves.

Which is kind of a bummer for Beebe and me. In rougher neighborhoods, we use shopping carts as disguises – when you’re stinky and half drunk and pushing one of those down the blazing sidewalk, nobody suspects you might be carrying cash, cameras and an iPod. In fact, they cross to the other side of the street to get out of your way.

But since we don’t look like immigrant women, the police are quite likely to take us for scrap scavengers . Knowing that, we’ve foregone picking up some pretty interesting items. We left a functioning fire extinguisher in the bushes behind a former cockfight ring on Telephone Road, for example. Beebe coveted it for his club in Marfa, but we knew we would have a hard time explaining its presence in our cart to the po-po’s. Hell, we would have a hard time explaining just what the hell we were doing, period. “Ya see, ossifer, we ride the bus out to the end of the line, and walk all the way back downtown drinking all the way. But we’re not bums.”

I think I would arrest me too. – John Nova Lomax

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