Two men on ladders were repainting this pet doctor’s office on Monday and it seemed, in some strange way, to be a sign of hope. This desultory, charmless section of leftover Americana, a strip upon which everyone travels but no one loves, seems like so many others. Rarely, in the last fifteen or twenty years, has any care been taken on any of the buildings. Sure, some have changed hands; new signage and graphics. But pride in appearance has been missing from the entire strip from the airport all the way up…frankly to I-4 in Altamonte. Things here just tend to go to hell.
So it was a surprise and a pleasure to see a painter on a ladder, bucket and roller, easing on a glossy blue color over the grayed-out old roof eave. His partner, over on the side, was repainting the carport. It was a blue of a near-rainy sky – far from a sunny, bright blue, but rather the underside of a storm cloud kind of blue. This blue had its head turned slightly towards yellow; a kind of cerulean blue – not that of Ford, certainly, and not that of IBM. It was a prosaic sort of blue, the kind that a business owner picks out because he got a good deal on the paint cans.
That may be why it was so mood-lifting, because the blue color seemed kind of honest and unpretentious, not alluding to anything else. And because someone was actually doing it. The two guys were hard at work, ignoring the traffic and hopefully getting it done before the rain. That afternoon, driving, it was just a little too overcast for sunglasses but a little too bright to go without, so they must have been working quickly in case it rained.
The idea of a building getting painted, in a place where no one paints or washes their buildings, is a crazy little irrational sign that there may be hope after all. It is a sign that someone has hung on, seen through a rough patch, and decided to invest a little bit in the future. The simple act of painting a bullding suggests care, a job to do, and a definitive act that somehow seems brash. It defeats the defeatism that has set in along this raggledy strip. It is almost poetic in its defiance of fate, and the ballet of two men painting this little veterinarian’s office seems, to me, a positive.