My Walk to Work, 2008-2009


For five years, I lived ten blocks from my office -- my apartment and the office were both on Main Street, just a short walk from each other. I made that walk year after year and saw plenty of weird and wonderful things, primarily in the morning -- leftovers of whoever had spent the night out. I finally started taking pictures of these things with my camera phone around 2008, a year before I moved to a new house. I no longer walk to my office (it's a 45-minute bus ride now), but here, I've collected some of my favorite photos from that old walk. Sorry about the camera quality -- it's kinda what you get when you're on the go.

In case you're wondering, this was all going down in inner southeast Portland, Oregon. It's a transitional area between light industrial and commercial buildings (think warehouses, bakeries, distilleries) and the beginning of a residential neighborhood.

The Free Box

October 6, 2009

The flier on the front says "Free Box: The Magazine #3." Below, it says "Neighborhood Issue: 'Free Box' travels the world! Furnishing your home with freedom." Initially I was a little scared to open the Free Box, but then took to doing it every time I passed -- because, yes, there was always free stuff in there. I even took to putting my own free stuff in there. The problem with the free stuff was that it was often pretty useless (like a single shoe). But hey, free shoe.

Inside the Free Box

October 6, 2009

Here's a typical example of what's inside the Free Box. Some crazy pajama bottoms, a sheet/curtain, and a newspaper. Written inside the box: "Please don't be a dick! Thank you. Come again."

Inside the Free Box
Inside the Free Box /

Outside(r) Art

August 28, 2008

I passed this guy's house many times, and often there'd be a piece of art like this on display out by his car. I finally met him the day I saw this one -- I just had to ask. He said was a retired teacher, trying his hand at painting. He'd put his art outside, figuring that if somebody liked it, he or she would probably knock on his door and they could talk about it. Apparently he got visitors several times a week.

Outside(r) Art
Outside(r) Art /

Beach Graffiti

July 10, 2008

Seen on a utility box. I like the birds.

Beach Graffiti
Beach Graffiti /

Rant on a Van

August 6, 2008

This was written on the window of a van crammed full of stuff -- boxes, bags, a lamp. It reads (errors intact): "Nice try on the theft, now I have you on camera for two vans and the tools you took the first time. Best of all you left your finger prints on the bolt cutters you handeld. Be a man and come during the [day?] since you are the worst thief in the world. The ignition is very simple if you have a brain." Note that I inserted the word "day," as I think that's what this guy was getting at. I looked behind me and indeed, there was a security camera there.

Rant on a Van
Rant on a Van /

Christmas in June

June 4, 2008

I lived next to a photography studio, located in a big warehouse. They did all kinds of weird stuff in there involving props. On one notable occasion, they shot a calendar involving firemen, and managed to get a fire truck inside the warehouse. After each shoot they'd leave most of the props just sitting on the curb and people would take them (sometimes I took them -- I got some decent shelves from one shoot). Here's an example of one that made me wonder: what photo shoot required a live fir (cedar?) tree -- looks like a Christmas tree to me -- in June?

Christmas in June
Christmas in June /

Twin Dogs Waiting

June 11, 2008

I saw these little guys several times, waiting outside a coffee shop. They were very friendly. They're tied to an Oregonian newspaper box.

Twin Dogs Waiting
Twin Dogs Waiting /

Blue Rubber Glove

July 9, 2009

Hey, free blue rubber glove!

Blue Rubber Glove
Blue Rubber Glove /

Free Baguettes

June 23, 2009

Outside a catering company's kitchen. They'd make the food there, then drive it to events. The leftover food was sometimes kinda weird. I think I see some asparagus in there too. Note that these green containers are Portland's composting bins.

Free Baguettes
Free Baguettes /

Free Bread

June 8, 2009

Another example from the same place, several weeks earlier.

Free Bread
Free Bread /

Drifts of Cherry Blossoms

April 28, 2008

There's a period of a few weeks each year when the cherry blossom petals fall and collect in drifts on the street. Here are a few shots from my front steps and the sidewalk by my apartment.

Cherry Blossoms - Steps
Cherry Blossoms - Steps /
Cherry Blossoms - Steps - Detail
Cherry Blossoms - Steps - Detail /
Cherry Blossoms - Sidewalk
Cherry Blossoms - Sidewalk /

Snow Day

December 22, 2008

I couldn't walk to work that day.

Snow Day
Snow Day /

Mix CDs

November 18, 2008

A bunch of home-burned CDs. I thought about taking one, but the titles were all very inscrutable...and these were sitting outside a sorta hippie-ish brewpub so I figured it probably wasn't my jam.

Mix CDs
Mix CDs /

Trees Awaiting Planting

January 8, 2009

Some trees waiting for a chance to grow.

Trees Awaiting Planting
Trees Awaiting Planting /

Mental_Floss Magazine in Convenience Store

September 20, 2009

I stopped by a convenience store and noticed that our magazine was on the front display, on par with Details, GQ, and Elle. We have better placement than Wired and Scientific American! Take that, publishing industry!

Magazine Rack
Magazine Rack /

Cicero Quote & Graffiti

October 27, 2009

Two photos. First, the inscription above a boarded-up school. Second, graffiti in the entryway.

Cicero Quote
Cicero Quote /
School Graffiti
School Graffiti /

Coat Hook

December 30, 2009

Not technically on my walk to work -- this was seen in a restroom at the PDX airport. I have to wonder why they had to label it. Lawsuit after somebody poked an eye out? Also, why so many screws?

Coat Hook
Coat Hook /

All images © 2011 Chris Higgins.