Lens & Context -
A Slice of Life on East 63rd Street


A Slice of Life on East 63rd Street | © Preston Lewis Thomas

They hang out on the corner of 63rd and Drexel next to an abandoned lot, waiting. The gas station across the street has an automated car wash, and they’re hoping that some of the customers will want their vehicles properly dried, and maybe a little tire dressing.

I get it.
It’s the Hustle.
They’re livin’ 4the city.

In fact, I notice several cars parked diagonally in front of the lot and a mix of brothers and sisters tending to these vehicles. There isn’t a set price. There’s no service menu. Customers pretty much pay what they want.

One of the ladies says to me, “When they come out the car wash, they cars still be wet. They have they own towels and Armor All and stuff. I mean, at least we ain’t out here tryin’ to rob or shoot nobody…”

Another adds, “I usually ask for three or four dollars, but you know, I’ll take whatever…”

Yes.
I do know.
Sometimes, I’ll take “whatever”.

The conversation pivots to what kind of photographer I am. I explain a little bit... Then one of the ladies asks whether or not I’ve ever photographed a naked woman on a couch.

I find that last question oddly specific, but I answer:
“Yes.”

She says nothing, but hits me with a raised eyebrow and mischievous grin.
A slice of life.