Sometimes, I find myself being annoyed. Sometimes the neighbors dogs (all eight of them or however many there are) are just a tad too loud. Sometimes it takes them (the neighbors, not the dogs) a while to mow their lawns. Sometimes I wonder if they have any sense when they are loud after my kids’ bedtimes. Sometimes this loud music lasts until after midnight. Sometimes the block parties out here get use of the fire truck and give joy rides (complete with a siren) after 9:00 p.m. or so. The other day, there was actually a parade that went by around 9:30 p.m. associated with the local college (my husband’s employer). They were banging snare drums and blowing sirens on a week night.
When I lived in the St. Louis area, I sometimes heard gun shots within the city limits. Of course, that probably had something to do with the Cardinals winning the World Series. Also there were gun shots on New Years Day, and maybe the 4th of July. I can’t remember. Anyway, it was annoying. When we were trying to sell our house, we were twice told that prospective buyers were concerned about our neighbors. Once we were told that a prospective buyer was “creeped out” by the neighbor because “he was outside the whole time” they were viewing the house. Uh….since when is that suspicious?
You see, we have the idea now that we need to stay inside — that civilized people stay inside. If you do happen to go outside, you definitely go to the back yard behind a privacy fence. There’s no place for a person to be in the front yard. That’s uncalled for. Also, a civilized person most definitely would not live in a home without central air. They wouldn’t gather outside after dark in the summer to cool off. Don’t they know they’re supposed to be inside where the climate is controlled?
This entire rant is going off the deep end. My crazy mood started when I read this article. It’s about a family in Chicago who bought their home more than 40 years ago and then watched the neighborhood around them change over the years. Even though they describe their house as “run down,” they never suspected what was about to happen to them. Simply because their neighborhood has undergone gentrification before their eyes, and because people assume crimes are occurring if you don’t live a posh lifestyle, neighbors called and reported suspected crimes. What happened next? A raid involving 40 officers and smoke bombs. What did they find? No drugs. No guns. No suspicion of dog fighting….just a long list of ways in which their home does not comply with municipal codes. They ended up being banished from their home for things like “bad wiring, clogged gutters, torn siding, broken plaster, rotting window sashes, unsanitary living conditions.” Nobody bothered to say what was unsanitary about their living conditions. I suspect whatever it was was more about pleasing the complaining neighbors than making sure these individuals are safe in their home. You see, these pesky neighbors had purchased their home in a “good” neighborhood and they can’t have people like this around. It is killing their property values. These types of individuals are more concerned about their property values than about the people who live in their neighborhoods.
Please remember, these municipal codes are in place to make sure that these snoopy, wimpy neighbors get what they want by kicking out these old school, down to earth folks. We should be ashamed of ourselves. As one commenter pointed out, the government should have used the money for helping these people make some necessary improvements to their home rather than sponsoring a raid that was attended by 40 officers. These aren’t some fly by night renters that aren’t concerned about their home. They’ve lived there for more than 40 years!
By the way, I’m not saying this is about race at all. I think it is more about status. We assume the worst when people don’t live like us. Then we assume the police can fix it for us. Technically, these people were breaking the law — the municipal code, to be exact. But, I suspect most of us do break municipal codes (as I document in my book). Do you think this is enough reason to lose your house? If so, you better be prepared to follow all of the rules yourself, and you should start by reading them. You might be surprised what’s in there.