There Goes the Neighborhood
I sat in an office waiting room the other day, with one other person. The man initiated a conversation by remarking that he intended to go up to one of the local mountains for snow shoeing later that day. He asked if I ever went there or if I lived too far away and then proceeded to tell me where his house was located — in that way making sure that I was aware that he not only lived in an area that’s well-known for prosperous homes but adding he and his wife had one of the structures up on the edge of the bluff, with outstanding views of the river. I’m not much interested in braggadocio and was only marginally polite as he went on, continuing with a further description of their grand view. Then the subject of his conversation became dominated by the fact that a home in his neighborhood had recently applied for – and been granted — the status of a group home for teenage foster kids and he was angry. Did he expect that kids who are disenfranchised in their home situations deserve to live only in what he thought of as lesser areas in the poorer parts of town, I wondered — and then I realized that what was driving him was fear, the monster that motivates so many an impassioned agenda. “You know those kids are there for a reason,” he said heatedly. “We had a neighborhood association meeting to try and stop this — to keep those kids out — but we didn’t win.” That was the end of our interaction because he got called into the back for his appointment — just in time to miss the smile that stole across my face when he told me of the homeowner’s association’s failed effort. I hope that those kids turn out to be great neighbors and that his level of tolerance is given a great opportunity to change.