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The helping hand

West Medford neighbors see the benefits of 's work

It's Friday morning in west Medford and that can only mean one thing: will be cruising, high-speed, to roll neighborhood trash cans back to houses after the weekly garbage pick-up.

From picking up bottles and throwing away litter to trimming rose bushes and mowing lawns, Jackson tidies the neighborhood around Putnam, Austin, Niantic and Maple streets.

His motivation is simple.

Somebody's gotta do it, said Jackson, 57, who stays with various friends around the neighborhood.

— Jackson, who said he's worked at many places, including almost every mill in this valley, said he doesn't miss regular employment.

I don't work anymore, he said. Only when I want to.

For Kay Maya, 50, who lives on Austin Street, his vocation is a noticeable benefit to the area.

He keeps the street clean and stuff, she said.

If you need something, like lifting something, he'll help, said Maya, who runs a day-care center in her home.

I don't really know how long he's been here ' he's always been here, she said.

Jackson said for seven years he's been watching over the neighborhood, doing whatever people ask him to, whether for a fee or free.

Sometimes I cut wood, landscape, automotive, he listed as he zipped down the street with animated steps and swooping arms, pulling trash cans back up to their proper homes.

I do what's necessary, when it's necessary, he said.

But Jackson said his relationship with area residents is a reciprocal one.

If I need something, I go and ask these neighbors and they give it to me, he said.

Jane Bridcott, of Maple Street, said Jackson surprises her sometimes, like the time she had a pile of branches out in front of her house she hadn't yet cleaned up.

I just heard this noise out there and he was just raking them up and putting them in the garbage, she said.

She said she paid him once to do her weed trimming when she was injured, and one time he did work for her in exchange for letting him use her weed trimmer at another residence.

But mostly he just makes the rounds, tidying for free.

Bridcott said she never minds his efforts, although one time she wished he had consulted her before moving a pile of gravel.

He moved it to my back yard. It wasn't really where I wanted it, she said, adding that she just moved it to where she wanted it.

While she wouldn't say there's a downside, she said there are a few quirks about him.

If you let him do something he has to do it his way, said Bridcott, and you better not tell him how to do it. And you better remove yourself from the area.

Jackson admitted that his brusque manner has resulted in a couple run-ins with the police.

When I say, 'Get outta my face, I'm gonna beat you up,' you better get outta my face, he said.

Bridcott admitted sometimes Jackson can get cocky, but she won't stand for it.

I give him his crap right back to him, you know, if he's not being nice, she said.

It's worth putting up with his unique behavior, she said.

He's kind of a character, but if I ever need anything done, he just says, 'What time do you want me there?' she said.

She said one time he yelled in to her house that she better lock up her truck because it wasn't safe to leave it unlocked in the neighborhood.

I really do feel a little bit more secure because he does make his rounds, she said.

He's kinda like his own security guard, she said.

Steve Jackson