Revision Street: Barbara Gordon, early 50s

Revision Street: Barbara Gordon, early 50s

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Matronly Barbara Gordon works with, but not for, the city.

I get to meet a good spectrum of the community in my work. A lot of them are blue-collar. I get to have contact with them and talk to them and see them, and to advocate for them. I love my clients. I feel very comfortable around them.

When they come in to see me, I bring them into my office and we have a good rapport. I help them. But my coworkers, they look down on them because they’re doing manual labor. Other people don’t bring clients into their office. I bring my clients into my office and shut the door. I protect them. I notice some of my coworkers don’t do the same. They’ll meet with them in the conference room, they’ll allow them to sit in the reception area for a long time before going to meet with them—they look down on them, because they work in an office as opposed to the street. It’s really weird. No one talks about class, but it’s got to be a class thing.

It sounds like you think this bias comes down to the kinds of labor that are being performed.

It does. Even the support staff. It really comes down to a class thing. People act like they’re better, just because they have an education or something.

The other day, my favorite client was really mad because he was going to be asked a lot of questions about where he lived, how long he’s lived there, where he went to school. He was like, I’m not answering those questions! I’m not answering those questions! Then I realized that why he was getting so offended was because he didn’t even finish junior high. He was so articulate and so intelligent, but he was just embarrassed to admit that.

We have all these ideas and notions of, if you have a degree, you’re smart. Well I know so many people with so many degrees that are just idiots, and have no common sense.

It’s hard to find people with a good work ethic, that just want to do a good job by the end of the day.

And at the end of the day, I get on the bus. I have a lady bus driver, and I’m like, Hey, how you doing?

She asks, How are you?

And I’m like, Working for the man, just like you! It’s nice.

(Photo by Katherine Hodges)

The CTA was asking for volunteers to go and tell riders, Next week this bus won’t be here. That was hard. I was at the 95th Red Line bus terminal. When I looked at the scheduled cuts I felt like most of the poor neighborhoods were getting screwed. I’m sorry, 10:30 isn’t that late, and these busses weren’t going to be here anymore? I jumped on all the busses and made these announcements, and it was the saddest thing, ever. These people were like, We’re coming home from work. How are we going to get home? How are we going to get home from work?

How did this work out, that all the poor neighborhoods were getting screwed the most. How did that happen? I was so angry. The whole notion that this mayor is calling himself the Green Mayor, but we can’t do something about public transportation? Public transportation is the future, and we’re cutting public transportation?

Someone I met told me once, Barbara, they’ve been cutting service since the late 1960s, early 1970s. I guess back then you couldn’t walk a couple blocks without there being a bus stop. At one point, we had way better service. Can you imagine? Two blocks without a bus stop. At one point we did have great service. I thought that was amazing.