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I live in a working class neighborhood. It’s a mix of apartment buildings and houses, business and residential streets. There’s a grocery store within walking distance that has fresh pre-packaged meat and vegetables. New tires? Got you covered. A barber shop with a real barber’s pole? Sure thing. A million different kinds of restaurants? Yup. The gas station on the corner almost always has a line.

It’s not a great neighborhood, but it’s not bad either. Generally, the worst kind of crime we have is graffiti, and hit and run accidents on parked cars. Every once in a while, you’ll hear a gunshot. A police helicopter, a ghetto bird, circles overhead a several times a week. Police sirens and fire trucks are common sounds. The fire department is only a block a way.

It’s the kind of neighborhood in which you feel mostly comfortable walking down a street late at night, even though half of the street lights are burned out. I’ve done it many times and have never had a problem, though I always have my keys ready to use as a weapon out of habit. The houses are typically two-bedroom affairs with a one-car garage on quarter-acre lots with about 10-15 feet between houses.

It’s a mixed race neighborhood made up of mostly brown people with some black people and a few white people. The brown people are from all over the world–Mexico, South America, India, Armenia, Asia. We say hello when we pass each other on the street. We know which car and and dog belongs to which house. Parking is always a problem. There are a lot of extended cab work trucks that take up too much room on the street.

My neighbors have a lot of parties. There’s always a reason to celebrate, but at the stroke of midnight, the music is turned down. At the park on the end of the street, there are daytime parties on the weekend. They clean up after themselves. You have to be careful driving down the narrow streets, because there are a lot of children and potholes.

I don’t invite my neighbors over for coffee, but I know them by sight. I know when I see a woman in a bathrobe walking a small white dog in the morning that she lives in the apartment across the street. It’s a clean neighborhood; people take care of what they have. You can see them out on the weekends mowing lawns and gardening. My neighbor two doors down is installing a new walkway. He’s been working on it in his spare time.


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I work in an upper class neighborhood a half an hour by freeway from where I live. I have to drive a mile out of my way each way, because a huge section of road is closed off for a gated community. It is almost entirely single family houses. The businesses are confined to main streets with signs that are low to the ground, no neon and no billboards. There’s a grocery store within driving distance that has a real butcher on hand to cut your meat to order. The gas station on the corner never has a line even though gas is always ten cents per gallon cheaper than my neighborhood.

It’s a great neighborhood. Generally, the worst kind of crime they have is vandalism. Every once in a while, there are child abductions. Last time that happened, they closed down entire city streets for miles and brought SWAT teams, multiple police helicopters and more cop cars than I’ve ever seen to search house to house. They found the little white girl and arrested a brown man within a day.

It’s the kind of neighborhood in which you’d feel totally safe walking alone any time day or night because there are police cruisers and new LED streetlights everywhere. The houses are typically 10-20 bedroom affairs with three-car garages on multiple acre lots with 100-1000 yards between houses.

It’s a single race neighborhood made up of mostly rich old white people. There are brown people from all over the world who work there in the gas stations and convenience stores. They go home every night. Parking is never a problem.

I never see parties, but I’m only there during the week. You have to be careful driving down the wide, freshly-paved streets, because there are people on horseback, and women pushing their dogs in strollers.

I know when I see a woman walking multiple dogs in the morning that she’s a professional dog walker. It’s a clean neighborhood; other people take care of what rich people have. You can see them out on the weekdays mowing massive manicured lawns and gardening. They are paid to build new walkways.

Author’s note: Both of these communities are in the same city, Los Angeles, and are funded by the same tax dollars.