Walking down the street and saw thick smoke coming out of an alleyway. Terrible machine sounds echoed on the walls of the buildings. How could I not be drawn to this?
I talked to a guy standing nearby. I thought he had something to do with this. So I asked him questions about what the man handling the machine was doing. I couldn’t understand what he was saying. He was mumbling and the machine’s noise covered his frail voice.
He said something about tar going up to the roof. He also touched the upper side of his hand in a massaging motion. I guessed he was suggesting that he once got burned doing the same job as the other man, who was a couple of feet from us.
He was smoking a cigarette. Despite all the fumes and smoke. Poor lungs.
Turns out he was a beggar, checking the scene. I saw him, a couple of days later, solliciting passersby in front of the liquor store just a block away.
So I approached the man working around the machine. He was putting heavy rectangular blocks of solid tar inside his huge filthy oven. The liquified tar was then pumped to the roof of the building, where other workers were spreading it.
He was feeding his machine. Over and over. Lifting the blocks, throwing them in through an opening and mixing the tar with a metal stick every now and then.
As the tar melted, it produced a heavy smoke. I tried to take a picture but I swallowed some tar gas. The smell and taste of it stayed in my chest for another 2 to 3 hours.
This guy had no mask. Only a visor to protect his face from the burning liquid tar. And he probably does this job a couple of times per week. Harmful to his lungs, you think?
He waves to me, telling me to go on the other side of the machine so I wouldn’t receive all the smoke. I shoot and get the hell out. Poor lungs.