The Calculus of Urban Grit

Does it pay to be a hooker? I don't think so. Not when you add in the therapy costs and social diseases.

When I moved into this Columbia Heights area, people were still openly buying drugs at the corner park. The city did something, I suppose, to stop it. But they really started when middle class people started buying houses here.

My husband would routinely find places to dump unwanted furniture and spoiled rugs with no hassle. Then in comes the middle class. You can't get away with anything anymore. There is an uptight woman living across the alley from me. She really needs a hobby because all she does is watch that alley. You can't get away with anything. She peers over her second floor porch down at little Econo-Girl absorbing the beauty of her garden and caws over the state of the alley. I just know she's the one that threw some of our garbage bags back over our fence into our yard. You're not in Bethesda anymore, babe. Watch it.

So in a more localized economic sense, is there more money in middle class people who watch alleys than in suburban people who buy drugs? There must be! You cut down on garbage law enforcement, for one thing. That neighbor lady may hate me, but she is not likely to shoot me with anything other than dirty looks.

The neighborhood is pushing the drug dealers a bit. It seems like a dangerous proposition, and I admire their courage. The first thing I noticed were members of a well-known religious group standing on the corner across from the drug dealers. They have been there for several years now, at least. They carry pamphlets, but don't push them on anyone. They are two old men in suits and ties and hats, just like in old movies. And they just stand there. Nothing else. They are fighting with their respectable presence alone. Usually they are gone by lunch.

I remember reading about a church that had a problem with drug dealers outside its doors. They BLASTED opera out of the church windows at full volume. The drug dealers couldn't take it and moved locations. The purity of opera is only for the pure of soul.

So the latest onslaught against those dealers is the family attack. The cement park that they call home is now taken over on Saturdays with family activities. And damned if they don't come. There is general park cleanup before 9 a.m. Then there is a free Tai Chi class. Then kids come for games and supervised play. I butt into the activities at that point with my two dogs. I thought the kids would like to pet the dogs.

So I go into the park and ONE OF THE DRUG DEALERS says to me, "Excuse me, excuse me, you are going to have to leave the park. I am asking you to leave the park now. No dogs allowed here."

You can imagine my reaction at this outburst of good citizenry.

"My goodness," I replied, "I wouldn't want to BREAK THE LAW here at 11th and Monroe Streets." One of his buddies hit him on the arm and told him to be quiet. I continued, "I wouldn't want to do anything ILLEGAL here in a public park." No further conversation, but I did leave.

These guys are not the gangsters of popular myth. They are older men, or at least they look like old men. And they look like they sleep outside half the time. About four of them were pouting during the kiddie play time around a chess board that is never played on. Not that they couldn't. I understand chess is a popular pastime at Lorton.

After play time in the park, there is a knitting circle. There were some women there last Saturday.

So the locals are ready to make life uncomfortable for the illicit trade, going so far as to cut into their business on their biggest day of the week. But would all this be happening if there was more money for the local enonomy in providing a place for people to buy drugs? That is the question. I'm sure we'd all like to think so.


Anonymous said...

Clever Econo-Girl...Peering down at little Econo-Girl enjoying her beauty...you are a whiz with words!
what a writer!
your husband
Leisure Lad

The Lazy Iguana said...

Sounds like you need to declare war on your neighbor. I have done so several times over the issue of my radio hobby (I am a licensed radio opoerator and therefore have antennas and stuff). I always end up winning the war. You can paint your fence (the outside of the fence that is) some awful color, or better yet paint garbage bags where you normally leave your trash for pickup. Lets see the lady throw those back over the fence! Other things that work are contrasting ugly colors done in a stripe or polka-dot theme. You can paint messages on the fence. It is your property, you can do whatever you like with it. Have fun!

As for the park, th drug dealers simply need to change their product. You think people into yoga and tai-chi are not on something? The dealers need to switch from uppers to downers. Kick good pot and stop pushing the crack. It is Adam Smith's invisible hand at work.

Anonymous said...

There is an econo-girl who is neglecting her blogging duties.

I have been waiting to hear econo-girl's take on China's currency policy, which is the hot topic in economic news right now. I check this site, and what do I find? NOTHING!

Jump on your chair and start writing your new entry now.