Everyday people

November 16, 2009


I live in a busy, inner city neighborhood comprised largely of renters and low-income immigrants from eastern Africa. There is a problem with Somali gangs. And for better or for worse, my street is quiet and secluded, the perfect venue for staying out of sight while you do things you don???t want to be seen doing.

The people who are actually residents, such as my nextdoor neighbor Larry, are pretty friendly and normal. It???s the other people who are bothersome. There are many out-of-the-way places, such as the back alley right outside my bedroom window, for ne’er-do-wells to loiter and do their nefarious deeds. There is always drug activity; usually around suppertime, packs of five to ten youths begin to show up to smoke whatever it is they???re getting high on. They???ll sit on the steps of the apartment house across from my place; they???ll sit on the curbs of the parking spaces behind my building, because not all residents have cars so there are open, yet hidden, places to hang out. Why don???t they hang out on their own steps? Oh, because they don???t want their mothers to know what they???re doing. So we???re the lucky ones.

I confess I???m kind of desensitized in general, which is not to say I won???t call 911 if I feel things are the least bit tenuous. I call quite often. In fact, two weeks ago I stopped some kid from breaking into Larry???s car (the one you see next to the two guys) at 1:30 in the afternoon. They throw their garbage anywhere and pee in the bushes. They don???t care; they just want some place to be illegal for 15 minutes.

It???s the trade-off, I guess, for my desire to live in the city. I could move to a suburb, but that would be boring. Plus I???d have to drive my car to work.

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