The graffiti on the sign says “ETC.”
'Et Cetera’ is a latin calque, or a word borrowed, literally, from another language. It means “and other similar things.” It was as if the graffiti artist was tagging on behalf of all graffiti artists, everywhere. “ETC”. Or maybe it was just a set of initials. Mostly, the graffiti artists confine their work to dumpsters. The occasional stop sign. But rarely private buildings. They seem to harbor no malice towards the owners of “All City Importers,” but they must be at war with Progressive Waste Services and other such garbage collection companies.
In fact, most buildings aren’t marked at all; either by graffiti or by signage. There is a shroud of mystery about these. What could they be? Perhaps secret academies, or laboratories, or military bunkers. One building merely says “Innovation Lab.” I wonder what they are innovating in there? I picture scientists in starched white lab coats, pouring bubbling radioactive solutions into giant beakers, under the watchful eye of Dr. Evil, or maybe Elon Musk. Every once in a while, between the mysterious buildings and industrial services, a random house or apartment building. They always surprise me. Like… you put a house here? The urban planning seems — well — un-planned.
There is one very old house, painted in flaking, bright, floral green paint, wedged between an HVAC building and a modern-looking multilevel office. It is quite odd, squished in between these two, with no room on either side, flowering vines obscuring its front, old creaky-looking stairs leading up to a narrow porch. It looks almost as if it’s being squeezed, ever so slowly, from either side, until one day it will just be gone. Maybe, in a way, that is happening.