In the neighborhood I grew up there was a real sense of community with an elementary school and a few mom-and-pop stores within walking distance for nearly everyone. With a school inside the neighborhood on weekday mornings kids rode their bikes or walked to it as their dogs followed along and then waited nearby until the bell rang in the afternoon and the process reversed itself. On free days roving bands of children would be regularly seen going up and down the streets playing in the various yards until they got bored and wanted a change in venue. Except for a few very rare exceptions, nothing was said as long as the kids behaved themselves and stayed safe.
These days’ developers spend a huge amount of money creating glossy pamphlets filled with pictures of how their subdivisions are little slices of pre-planned Shangri-la complete with community clubhouse, playground, and pool. The people in the pictures are always well dressed and smiling-and generally white with only a smattering of minorities-giving the impression of a vibrant community. For the most part it is propaganda meant to delude a banal and self-absorbed populations use to getting their own ways at everything.
The distance between the schools and subdivisions make it highly inadvisable to impossible for the children to walk there creating traffic jams in the morning and afternoon as parents and buses first rush in to get the kids in class then home. The mom-and-pop stores have long since been replaced with huge corporate abominations built on the outer edges of the suburban sprawl requiring a trip in the car for even the smallest items. Moreover and my favorite, the residents of these mutations of the American Dream believe their houses are their own fiefdoms always ready to make even the smallest perceived infraction a federal case, which brings me to what happened this week here in paradise.
Last Tuesday afternoon I went out to get the mail after dragging my sorry butt out of bed. It was the usual collection of bills, sale papers, and assorted junk mail but there was one exception. It was a small, obviously computer printed postcard addressed only to the resident of my house. It had no return address and on initial inspection I almost threw it away on sheer instinct, that is until I glanced at what was written on the back.
It was a “To whom it may concern” type of message that I assume went out to all the houses in the subdivision but the message was that at a particular address someone had constructed a chicken coop and now had chickens in his backyard. Even to me, the long established anti-social pariah of the subdivision, it was a violation of the homeowner’s association rules. When my wife and I signed the papers to buy the house, I vaguely remember the realtor stating the obvious the fact that we could not keep farm animals in our yard or have a “large” garden.
Now what bothered me was that the person sending out the cards did not put his or her name on them, which I felt was more than a little cowardly. However, I am not surprised, I have had my own unhappy encounters with a particular neighbor who likes to hide behind anonymity or call the deputy sheriff on me over areas I would have happily rectified or explained if he had the cojones to come talk with me in person.
Since the person with the illegal chicken coop is one of those doomsday types with several screws loose and the likely anonymous snitch is my old friend I am staying the hell out of this conflict. While I would love to haul ass away from this surreal collection of surface dwelling Morlocks the housing market is still in the tank where I live so I am having to hunker down and make do. Plus, the community pool does come in handy this time of year for my son and daughter. This just reaffirms my ultimate goal to get the heck out of Dodge whenever the kids are grown because right now it would not take much to convince myself a suburb of Kabul or Mogadishu would have friendlier and more rational people.