23. October 2013 · Comments Off on Adventures in the ‘Hood · Categories: Ain't That America?, Domestic, Home Front, World

I guess that it must be proof of sorts that we live in a pretty OK residential area … and also that Blondie and I are snoopy and stand on our rights and obligations as citizens, in that we have had cause to call the San Antonio Police Department twice in three days, and both times officers of the gendarmerie appeared within about twenty minutes or half an hour of the time we called. Yes, we are those neighbors … well, not the kind of ‘those neighbors’ who unite the other neighbors in disbelieving horror, but the other kind of ‘those neighbors’ – the ones who know other neighbors casually to speak to, who note and recognize things which are curious and out of normal order, and are not afraid to speak up and tell someone in ostensible authority. Like whoever is on the other end of the non-urgent telephone number.

This is what good neighborhoods are made of – not gates, security fences with combinations, private patrols, and not middle-class values and paychecks. It is also a relatively fragile construct, because once the forces of darkness and unrestrained disruption/criminality take over, it is damn hard to get control back. The people who live in a place must have an element of effective control over it through the soft power of social control – backed up by civil law, otherwise it’s a straight shot to gangbangers shooting up at random, kids sleeping in bathtubs or on the floor, and 24-hour mercantile establishments with their cashiers behind bullet-proof glass bastions and metal shutters over the windows.

I don’t want to live in a neighborhood like that – probably neither did George Zimmerman – and so this why Blondie and I take our phones with us when we run in the wee hours of the morning, and walk the doggies in the slightly-less-wee-hours. Mess with our neighborhood – we will dial 311 and explain the mess to the obliging dispatcher. Maybe this explains the difference between red and blue states at the working-class level. Here in the last redoubt of red-land, we still believe that we can hold fast; we can keep our neighborhood a place where you can walk the dog, let the kiddies play in the front yard, put garden ornaments of nominal value in the front yard and have faith they will remain there – and go running and dog-walking at all hours with a feeling of relative security. It’s just how we roll.

Sunday morning we found an all-terrain bike thrown down on the grass verge which lines a seasonal watercourse/storm drain which runs through the neighborhood from top to bottom; thrown down flat on the grass, not propped up against the fence or on the kickstand, and no sign of an owner anywhere in sight. After come consultation, Blondie called the police to report finding some obviously stolen and abandoned property. An officer came to the house, looked over the bike and took down the serial number. He said he’d call if he found any reports of it being stolen, but admitted that we’d probably have better luck ourselves in finding the proper owner – assuming that it was stolen from within the neighborhood. Also, I don’t think he wanted to go through the hassle of stuffing it in the back of his cruiser, taking it back to the property room at the station and filling out more paperwork. The bike is not one of the expensive top-end models, either, although there are some after-market add-ons. We’ve put out the word to those neighbors who are also observant, but no luck so far; there just aren’t many bicyclists other than kids here – and it’s not a kid’s bike. (All the adjustments are for an adult, and a tall one at that.)

There may be some juvenile thieves actively working the neighborhood again, too – last month we found a woman’s purse, again by the seasonal creek; wallet, keys and all inside, with credit and ID cards and checkbook there, but minus thirty dollars in cash. We were going to take it back to the house and see if there was anything with a telephone number on it, but on the way, we walked past the house where it had been stolen (from the front seat of an unlocked truck twenty minutes before) and the owner recognized it. We’ve been watchful ever since.
On Tuesday mid-morning, it was a slightly battered car parked in front of a house down the road; with a young man deeply asleep or unconscious in the driver’s seat. Blondie tapped on the window; he stirred but didn’t wake up. I’ve only ever seen one person asleep in their vehicle here; on a Sunday morning in the back of a pick-up parked in a driveway, and I could smell beer from fifteen feet away. In this case, it could be also an overdose, a diabetic coma or even an injury from a car accident not immediately visible – so, again the the SAPD non-emergency number. We did feel a little foolish, when it turned out that yes, he was just asleep – but the officers told us that there had been more crimes unraveled when a neighbor noticed something odd or out of place and called it in than ever had been solved by straight detective work. So we have that going for us.

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