LIfe in the ‘hood with a 7-pound monkey-wrench – Day One




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The last thing most people expect to see residing in the ‘hood these days is an educated middle-aged white guy with gray hair.  Least of all this ‘hood; now my home, my sanctuary from the rat race.  A depressed economy forced me through two layoffs in as many years.  They call them reductions in force I call them a knife through the ribs when you’re barely hanging on as it is.  Unable to even secure a part-time “I’ll do anything you want” job, I ended up negotiating labor for rent in a townhouse that needed a lot of work.  And the adventure in the ‘hood began.

The first day I pulled into the parking lot there were at least 5 or 6 people standing around and every set of eyes were focused dead on me.  And then we started unloading boxes and such because all I had to move my belongings with was the car; a very old, yet still faithful car.  Then their gaze intensified into “what do these crackers think they’re doing?”  Meanwhile I could see them discussing our behavior among themselves.

No one ever said a word.  No one approached us.  No one offered to help us move in.  They just silently watched as we moved into their ‘hood.  Numerous trips were required and each time just silent gazing from the same or similar group, although after the sunset the group grew in size increasing the overall impact of their gaze.  As intimidating as it may have been for some I wasn’t really concerned.  I grew up poor.  I know what being poor in a very poor neighborhood is about only in my past that had entailed trailer parks full of alcoholic rednecks, many with pain pill addictions thrown in.  However, having experienced both environments I can honestly say the level of illiteracy and developmental disability is about the same.  Those factors cross all ethnic and racial barriers when you’re poor.

I didn’t have to wait long for my first introduction to one of the neighbors.  It was the very next morning after completing the move.  She came at me with a thick printout stapled together and labeled “Homeowners Association Rules.”  I knew I was in for it right then and there.

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