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?