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On weird assumptions people make when you live in a semi-"urban" area

The house Foxylocksley and I just bought is in an area of LA's South Bay that is considered "not a great neighborhood" by some. While researching the area I would frequently come across postings about it being "dangerous" and overrun by gangs. However, perhaps it is my years of living in "not great" neighborhoods or perhaps it is others' paranoia, but I have yet to find it to be particularly sketchy or dangerous. In fact, I find much of it to be very charming and "small town" feeling. Nevertheless, I am periodically reminded by others that from an outside perspective it is still "sketchy." For example, we just had a guy from the insurance company stop by to take some pictures and measurements. During this visit, he had to go along the side of the house—an area I rarely visit because it's basically just a walkway to the power meters and electrical panel. When he came back inside he looked uncomfortable and began to explain that there was a lot of "gross stuff" over there. In the few times I have been back there (usually to retrieve the neighbor kids' ball) I've noticed some trash, but nothing too odd or disgusting. I found myself envisioning dead cat corpses or entire bags of rotting trash. He clarified that it was "drug stuff" like people were "doing their business and then tossing it over."

"Like, needles?" I asked

"Yeah" he responded, then added "You should probably put on some boots when you go clean it up."


After he left, Foxylocksley and I were weirded out, and a little confused by the prospect that someone was just tossing needles over our fence. However, considering the insurance guy had just told us that the needles were there, we started pondering how one goes about cleaning up what we now believed to be an alley full of dirty needles. Finally, I threw on my rain boots and went out to investigate. However, I soon found myself cracking up because, evidently, the insurance guy has no idea what needles and "drug stuff" looks like. The items in question?: Discarded tubes from Otter Pops! In fact, the only stuff back there was obviously tossed over by some of the neighborhood kids (a football, candy wrappers, etc).

Now, maybe insurance guy was not actually profiling my neighborhood and his assumption about the Otter Pops being "drug stuff" had nothing to do with the fact that our neighbors on both sides are apartment-dwelling minorities. Perhaps his own kids have gotten in trouble for all the neon liquid-filled "drug stuff" they leave in the kitchen trash. However, I can't help but suspect that the mental leap he made upon viewing the trash in our alley would not have been the same in a more gentrified neighborhood.

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