Rich/Poor/Class War

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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.

There are 26 comments

  1. djmatticus

    I live in Oxnard and work in Calabasas…. this story could have been written by me too. It is an interesting comparison. Then again, I’m happier living in Oxnard than I would be in Calabasas – the weather is nicer, the housing prices (and associated costs) are more reasonable, etc… But, it’s interesting to pull up to the Starbucks on my way to work in my 17 year old truck (with dents and chipping paint) and be parking next to brand new (and spotless) BMWs, Ferraris, Audis, Mercedes, Lamborghinis, etc… I often wonder if they come out and worry about the “type of person” who parked next to them….

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      1. djmatticus

        Good ol’ Richville. ;-) Sometimes I look at those mansions and I think “What a waste of space.” Sometimes I look at them and think, “If only I had that much space.” Ah, the duality of man.

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        1. goldfish

          I wouldn’t mind having all the land, but that’s just too much house. I always think that it would be a pain to clean and heat/cool it, which just proves that I’m poor since rich people don’t worry about that. :)

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  2. donofalltrades

    I enjoyed this post. That sounds like really really richville over there. In the City where I work, you’ll find all of the police in the poor area mostly because that’s where the next call will most likely come from. I’m most comfortable with poor to middle class people. Really rich folk are ridiculous for the most part, though I wouldn’t mind being one.

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  3. sortaginger

    I live in a county where the west side is considered the “nice” part, with the newer schools, upgraded parks, etc. The east has the airport and is like a totally different area, older schools, fewer amenities. Newcomers are surprised it’s the same county, with everyone paying the same tax rate, etc.

    I’m on the most eastern part of the west side, practically the middle, so it’s interesting to see how we do or don’t fit in. I think the makeup of my kid’s school reflects this;apartment dwellers and mini-mansioners, welfare and corporate managers, etc.

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      1. AR Neal

        Sure thing! Close enough though. There are so many similarities that are spefifice to So/Centra Cal. While it certainly applies to other places also, the ‘place’ descriptions don’t fit the Rust Belt…even thouh the situations do! Excellent commentary on…the US!

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  4. C.K. Hope

    I live in the country, which has it’s own similar-yet-different version of class wars. Honestly, your neighborhood sounds better to me than the alternative. All I can think about is the cost of heating and/or cooling a mini-mansion, the hours needed to keep it clean … jeez I’m now imagining trying to call the family to dinner, tracking them all down could take hours.

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