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Quality Control Engineer in da 'Hood

In my travels, I note the interesting circumstances and situations my customers put themselves in. The U.S. is generally a self-segregating society; we have no formal "classes" so to speak. Sure, the media and those with a political agenda try to draw lines where they don't exist. I still see a country where there is horizontal and vertical movement along the economic continuum. There are lines, but they are always blurry and often moving. We are not a static society.

Which makes my observation a bit non-sensical, at least at first glance. Why would an educated, upper income family move into a lower-middle class neighborhood? I see it quite often. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with that. It's just that if you have the means and ability, why wouldn't you live in the "nicest" area possible?

Here's the scene: Waist-high weeds grow along the chain link fence in front of an empty lot. Fifteen to twenty year old cars gather dust as they sit next to the cracked sidewalks. The homes on the street needed paint years ago, and now most need new siding, roofs and masonry work as well. In the middle of all this, a new Audi sits in front of a remodeled bungalow house. The yard is clutter free and tastefully landscaped. Huh?

I call them Urban Pioneers. For some reason, these folks (mostly White or Asian) move into "economically challenged" minority neighborhoods. They usually fix-up the old house that they move into, inside and out. The interiors are normally modern, clean and very tasteful. There's usually at least one room that has computers and electronics worth more than the all the "hoopties" on the street outside. Art deco posters extol the virtues of 1925 Soviet Russia, and the Krupps in the other room is brewing up one wicked cup 'o joe.

The people themselves are the most down-to-earth folks you'll ever meet. Artsy, yet genuine and friendly. They seem at peace in their little "island". Despite the incongruous nature of their residence, they are at ease.

And why shouldn't they be? Sure, they could buy some lame condo downtown. For some reason, they chose differently. God bless them.


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