I live in the ghetto.

i live in the ghetto. i partly say that to sound cool – living in the ghetto increases your street cred. i partly say that as a heads up – people tend to get a little nervous the first time they come to my apartment. but really, i mostly say that as an intro to all the interesting things that come along with that living arrangement, things that i have had the wonderful opportunity to witness and experience in the last year…

*bikes get stolen. obviously. you don’t have to live in the ghetto for this to happen. but broken bikes? bikes that cannot actually be ridden? really? my dear friend luke was biking over to my place one night when his chain broke slightly past mid-ride. terrible luck, but he decided to just walk/coast the rest of the way, being slightly past mid-ride. later that night he got a ride home with somebody who happened to actually drive over, leaving his bike on my porch. concerned it would be stolen, i called him the next morning, but he assured me that it would be fine, broken and all. that night, i came home and the bike was gone. okay, not really gone, more like, a few feet away from the porch, laying across the sidewalk. about as far as you can ride a broken bike. so i was convinced, broken bikes are safe.

sadly, this is not an absolute truth as i discovered when i left my own broken bike upside down and unlocked on my porch in an attempt to diagnose the broken-ness. thanks to the upsidedown-ness, i had a clear view of the problem. thanks to the leaving unlocked-ness, i never have to deal with the problem again. actually, it’s a problem my mom will never have to deal with again, seeing as it was her bike. oops.

a few days later i saw a make-shift sale sign, you know, the type scribbled on a piece of cardboard, taped to a telephone pole: “used bikes for sale 1025 Somerandomstreet”. How much do you want to bet… [i was unfortunately on my way out of town for a few days and never made it over there to check]

*supposedly, people used to hang out on their porches all the time, back in the day. it was the cool neighborhood thing to do. based on my observations, this porch-loitering now only takes place in select neighborhoods; like the ghetto. sit on your porch for too long in the wrong neighborhood and people start wondering what your problem is. sit on your porch as long as you want in northwest Grand Rapids and nobody gives a damn.

suburbia pretentiousness has no place here. i love the sense of freedom that comes with that. case in point: i can sit on my front steps in my pj’s eating frozen fat free cool whip straight out of the tub and nobody walking by (see next point) bats an eyelash.

*people walk on my street. a lot. most likely because there is a bus stop on the corner, a pedestrian underpass behind my house, and a dollar store around the block. and the fact that a lot of people probably don’t own cars. and the fact that walking is just a nice way to fill time. anyway, there is a lot of foot traffic, and it’s not the color-coordinated-work-out-outfit-i-pod-tuned-out-suburbia type foot traffic. it’s the i’m-gonna-walk-on-the-sidewalk/middle-of-the-street/grass-and-talk-really-loud-or-sing-or-not-talk-at-all type foot traffic.

*my car has been decorated by spray paint. no, “decorated” is a stretch. somebody felt the need to put a blue line of paint on the driver’s door. classy. uncreative. ghetto.

*kids in the ghetto seem to have different bed times. or no bed times. what other explanation could there be for 10 year old children playing in the street at 11:30 pm? don’t make those kids mad though, or tell them to stop doing things like wrestling on the hood of your car, they’ll throw rocks at your door…

*shopping carts belong in grocery stores. and on my street. okay, maybe “belong” isn’t the right word choice here but, regardless, within the last several weeks, i have not gone more than a couple days without a cart siting, either being pushed along or just chillin, usually parked in some cock-eyed fashion on the sidewalk, because the pusher has broken one of the wheels that has been expertly engineered for laminated floor, not potholes and sidewalk cracks. an empty shopping cart doesn’t stay in one place for long though. similar to bikes, they seem to be hot commodities around here [what else can hold that many empties???] and soon disappear until the next “owner” realizes how much work pushing a broken cart is. one morning, as i was contemplating life through my giant front window (see sidenote), i noticed yet another shopping cart across the street. not uncommon, barely worth noticing. a few minutes later, an un-marked white van pulls up, the driver hops out, heaves the cart into the back, and drives off. interesting.

[sidenote] this giant front window is possibly the best part of my apt. you can see a lot by looking out a window like that.

*one of my favorite “i live in the ghetto anecdotes” to date is the Baby Car Seat Anecdote. My previous upstairs neighbors had a baby. [well, they still do, but they don’t live there anymore. so,,, had? have? hmmm] With a baby comes a lot of things, like car seats. Sometimes car seats break, or don’t fit, or start to smell really bad, or need to be thrown away for some other reason. Whatever the reason was, the neighbors were trashing the seat, and it was hangin by the road with the rest of the throw-aways and recyclables [look how environmentally friendly we are here…] As i enjoyed my coffee on that particular morning, i witnessed five different people stop to “rescue” the car seat from the trash – in a span of about 20 minutes. my favorite rescuers drove by, stopped the car, reversed the fifty yards or so back to my house, put the seat in their car, and then brought it back five minutes later after realizing it was broken.

MORAL OF THE STORY: everybody wants a free car seat. everybody wants a free shopping cart. nobody wants a broken one. they only like broken bikes.

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