I met Orlando while staring at a sign advertising a missing passport on the fence of Justice Gilbert Ramirez Park, just off the Morgan L stop. The sign read that the passport was found in the garbage at the park. “Do you know him?” Orlando asked myself and Cameron from his car. Sadly, we did not. Cameron attempted to reach out to the person whose passport was found, but to no avail.
I was not as concerned with the missing passport as I was impressed with the sign that Orlando made. He scanned the passport, printed it out, laminated it, and zip-tied it up in front of the park entrance on the corner of White and McKibbin street. I started to think, who the heck is this guy? He doesn’t work for the Parks Department, is this just a random one time samaritan? Seemed a bit more involved than that. Turns out he’s the unofficial/official(?) parkeeper!
About a week later, I was still thinking about this dude. This isn’t his job, he’s not getting paid. He doesn’t have any sort of supervisor to report to. Orlando takes care of the park simply because he loves to do it. I decided to call the number that was on the flyer for an interview. When I asked him for an interview he said, “Why not?”
Of course after I turn the microphone off is when the most interesting stories come up. He told me how he was at Ground Zero on 9/11, I watched his eyes change as he recalled the day. He did tell me that the missing passport had been claimed! He also offered me some of the loose tea and other herbs he keeps in the back of the park, and gave me instructions on how to dry them out.
After the interview was over, he asked where I was off to next. I told him I was going to stop by the record store down the street. He was bitter about that record store, it was the one that only gave him $50 for over 300 records. I wonder if I bought any of the records he sold to them.