Yesterday evening, I was milling around my neighborhood looking for a swimming pool that I can crash from time to time. In particular, one that does not have a keyed entry and is within walking distance of my house.
There's an apartment complex with a pool about six blocks down the road that I thought I'd investigate. It was cloudy last night, so I'd hoped no one would be out by the pool and I could successfully execute a stealthy reconnaissance mission.
I saw that the pool area was empty and the gate was closed. I was about ten steps away from the pool gate, where my intentions were to attempt to open it with only my brute force. Then wouldn't you know it, I was caught red-handed, unawares by an elderly gentleman in blue swim trunks.
He introduced himself as Mack, retired Navy. Very friendly guy, so I assumed he probably knew everyone in the complex. This place looks kind of like an old motel with about twenty or thirty units. I can't lie to this guy and tell him I live there. Goodness, I thought. How am I to explain my presence?
We chatted for awhile. He told me his wife is having back surgery soon and the price of a bus ticket to the hospital and back. He told me he was retired Navy again. He told me they were going to tear down the place and build a condo in a few months. Then he told me how nice the pool was, and if I ever wanted to come swimming, to just knock on door #10, tell him I'm there, and if anyone gives me trouble, that I could tell them that I'm his guest. And you don't need a key to get in the gate, just lift here, and the gate swings open.
Sweet! I said I lived just down the street, thanked him, and told him just how swell that would be.
So I got to thinkin' just how much more I like regular people than plastic people. In my neighborhood, which has historically been lower-middle class and racially integrated, they are putting up condos and townhomes like it's going out of style. While my neighbors may not share my literary genius (ah-hem), they are always available when I need lawn care advice, help changing the oil in my mower, or simply the latest neighborhood gossip.
If I had been traipsing around the grounds of one of the newer townhome communities, that would have never happened. Plastic people tend to be withdrawn and not as friendly. It takes longer to get to know them. They seem to be most concerned about making sure the plastic looks right, and not about what's going on around them. They don't make eye contact. They don't seem as happy and appear worried.
I know I'm generalizing here, but these are my observations of how my neighborhood is changing. You would think that having a big fat bank account, a retirement plan and a nice home and car would set people at ease. But I don't think it does. It just gives them more to worry about.