Friday, November 17, 2006

From the deep end of the carpool

If you are obscenely rich, I apologize in advance for this post. I really don’t mean to offend you. Much.

My son Ethan is a 6th grader in a *brag alert* gifted program across town. When I drive him to school, we pass through two different construction projects. The contrast between the two strikes me as symbolic. But then I’m a Humanities nerd, so everything strikes me as symbolic.

1st patch of construction

Ethan’s school is located in a very wealthy neighborhood (did I mention this is far far away from us?) near the golf course. Workers with bobcats and cement mixers have been busy for weeks doing some kind of shoulder work along the route we take through Posh-ville. This week, we finally discovered the purpose of this project. Our hard-earned tax dollars are being poured into concrete peninsulas that jut out into the road. Judging by the orange markings in the center of the road, an island will soon follow. As far as I can tell, these man-made geographic features serve no other purpose than to deter traffic. Ethan took the words right out of my mouth when he voiced his opinion of the whole thing: “The obscenely rich have far too much sway in local politics.”

Yes, he always talks like this (which is why he’s in a gifted program to begin with). And yes, he has clearly inherited the dominant Cynic Gene from both parents. Poor child.

2nd patch of construction

On the way home we pass through a bigger construction project along a very busy road in the process of being widened. In an ironic reversal of the “narrowing” going on just a few blocks away, all of the houses on the north side of the road have been condemned and are, one by one, being bulldozed into oblivion. Every day, the kids watch carefully as we pass to see if there are any new vacant lots that weren’t there the day before. The homes still standing bear the signs of the terminally ill – the cracked driveways, the worn paint, the broken windows, and the grass and trees that have not been watered for months because why bother when the end was near. It’s hard not to feel sorry for the houses and the people who lived in them. They both lost the battle. Am I the only one who thinks if these had been larger, fancier homes they wouldn’t have seemed so expendable?

4 comments:

Kimberly said...

My hubby is a doctor, but before you start throwing things or being cynical at me - we live in a broken down fixer-upper type house.

I think it's sad that our society views the things of this world as being so disposable. Where's the need to work and strive? To improve and repair? We prefer to chuck things in the garbage bin and start with something shiny and new.

The thrift stores of the world never had it so good.

Anonymous said...

Sure. Large, fancy homes mean higher property value, which in turn means guvmint income via taxes. And with a high enough value they become too expensive to condemn. That's when "untouchable" gets a positive connotation. But then that's how it's typically used here, right? Here where we don't have a caste system, don't have sharply divided "classes" of people.

Uh-huh.

You'd think the weight of irony would crush us; it does not. Instead we attach chains and create suitable anchors for our obscenely oversized watercraft, which we tow behind our Excursions, Suburbans, extended-cab Duallies and Hummers.

Which of course need wider roads...

That Cynic Gene must go way back along the family trees, eh.

Moobs said...

Perhaps the people who lived in the houses being demolished made a pile and have moved into the houses in the new development?

When did get this naive?

Julie said...

Kimberly,
I agree about the disposable society thing. Even the printers and cameras they make now are cheaper to replace than to repair. I hate that.

Jam
Hey we must be related because you've got the cynic thing down. The Cynic Gene is linked to the Sarcasm gene by the way.

Moobs,
I'm honored by your visit oh great and funny one. Sure, I'd like to think they got a decent price for their homes. Maybe they are all out there golfing and I'm feeling sorry for them for nothing. Right.