3rd week Public maintenance department Amsterdam North


Tuesday 10th

This week feels like the routine is becoming part of us. The guys are waiting for us, teasing us, taking care of us as if we knew each other for a longer period of time. It feels good.

When we wait between 2 missions I sometimes feel like a teenager  hanging outside with my long time buddies. Working with them every morning carries a very specific sense of time. Beyond the work I am appreciating this feeling of hanging out and being the secret witness of the city waking up.

The two teams seem to follow always similar routes. With my team I always end up at De Banne. De Banne is a regular spot to clean. Always dirty. On Tuesday after a long week-end it is therefore double dirty. Everybody works hard and it feels good.

Today Guus is not in the machine. He is the master of the machine and he doesn’t like it too much when someone else is doing it. So that creates little tensions in the team. But since the team spirit is one very important aspect of this work everybody works on it and after long talks and apologies it is already forgotten. There is quite some care in the team.

On Olivia’s side there is a lot of tchitchat. We talk about food from our different countries. Since the group’s origins are quite diverse, talking about food is a little bit like travelling.

Surunamese, Maroccan, Indonesian, Ghana, Hungary.

At the end of our shift we  leave our letter to the guys on their lunch tables with the info about our project. We wonder what they will think and if they are curious about it.



Today Olivia is showing where she lives to her group. We always work in the same area therefore we sometimes pass her house. She sees bowie, her baby, through the garden window. Marc the father is watching him. Fabien says that he is obviously a very good father because he is so focused on Bowie that he doesn't see them. Right after that it is time to visit ‘OPA”. Opa is a very old man who used to always get out of his house and talk to the guys when they were working close by. He is friend specifically with Paul. Opa is now so old that he can’t walk anymore. But the guys made it as their routines to always pass by there at least once a week. At some point the car slows down passing in front of a quiet house with a tiny space between the curtains. The guys worries that maybe Opa is not awake yet. After few minutes we see a hand sticking out of the window to wave at the guys.

Little pleasure of the morning routine.

We move on. Fabien talks politics with olivia about “developed” and “not developed” countries and how developed countries fucked it up for the others with climate for example.

Olivia notices the orange extensive decoration in one of the street. The guys tell her that her ein north 95% of people are born there and in this specific streets each time there is any sport event they decorate.

Alice is with Ramazan, Rut, Martin, Abdel.  Martin apologize about the small conflict of yestersay. We conclude the conversation by saying that in the end everybody has good and bad sides. Martin knows Paul and Gus for a very very long time. He started when he was 16 in the north. Paul and gus were already there.

We also talk about why De Banne winkelcentrum is always so dirty. The guys tell me that the furthest you are from the ground, the least you care about your surroundings. I find this statement intriguing. I wonder if this is really the case. It is the second time I hear it here though. Martin tells me as well that kids nowadays are not well educated. His kids are. His father was very strict but he thinks its good.  They call him strict olifant opa.

Martin explaining why De banne is dirty. The furthest you are from the ground the least you care. Kids are not well educated nowadays. His kids are. He had a very strict father. But he thinks its good. He is called now "strict olifant opa"

Thursday 12th

The bound with the guys is getting stronger. There is a certain respect towards each other and we appreciate that.

With my team abdel, rut, guus and Martin we go to our usual route. I make jokes that tomorrow because Martin and Abdel are not here I will be the big boss and the team leader.

They laugh and tell me that I can always call them if the others don’t listen

Guus arrives with the Machine. The guys tell him that with me he will not be allowed to complain and that I will be very strict.  I tell him as a joke that I will be driving the Machine tomorrow. So he takes me in and explain me the basic ways to drive it. I feel proud even with onlyn few meters drive on a parking lot.  Gus also gives me his coat because today it is very cold. The guys tease him complaining that he never gives them his coat when they are cold.

After this big machine experience I observe the boss who explains to me every details and the way it goes. Usually you learn first to drive the machine around and only when your feel comfortable you start with the cleaning functions. It takes time to adapt to the machine for a beginner like me because the steering wheel is on the wrong side.

After our shift  we ask the guys if they want to do our interviews next week. They all say yes, they are curious ,happy to be asked. Our master plan is slowly coming true. The interviews are a way for us to welcome them slowly into our world. Until now we were mostly following their world and getting to know each other. Next week is the time to make our next step.