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July 17, 2013 - Jennifer Brookens
A few weeks ago, I was driving my son home from daycare when I had to take a shortcut through the alleyway south of our house. Because of all the road construction, our block is now a cul-de-sac and alternative routes to our house include the alleys. A neighbor I'd only had glimpses of in the past stepped into the alley and flagged me down.
Thinking he needed help, I stopped and rolled down the window to talk to him. Instead, I got a scolding.
"You're using this alley like it's a street," he chided, wagging his finger in my face. "Go around the block, that's what streets are for. Show some respect for your neighbors!"
I was taken aback. I didn't think I was being disrespectful. I always drive slowly, since I know one of the neighbors has a dog that sometimes explores the area. And yet, while this guy was demanding I respect my neighbors, forcing me to stop so he could lecture me in front of my child left me feeling more than a little disrespected. I thought about telling him this, and if he wants to talk about respecting neighbors he should clean up his overgrown jungle of a yard and stop bringing down neighborhood property values! Of course, I thought of these retorts long after I rolled up my window on him and drove away.
If anything, the confrontation made me more determined to go through the alley than before. A quick check with the local police confirmed that alleyways were OK to use to avoid construction areas and were not dictated by some self-appointed alley troll. Besides, there have been sacrifices for us during this construction as well. On garbage nights, we need to get out earlier or else the neighbors who are on the torn up road take up all our curb space. One neighbor had their van parked in front of our house for three days. We could have called the cops and complained, since there is an ordinance about parking for more than 24 hours on a city street. But we didn't because we knew there was no other place for them to park near their home. (Although I was glad to see they moved it finally this morning).
So yes, our regular driving, parking and some other household routines are shifted for the summer. But that's what you deal with living in any organized city, village or town. We can deal with a few extra bags of garbage on our curb on garbage night for the summer. We deal with a fleet of vehicles parked at the end of our makeshift cul-de-sac. And yes, there's more traffic through our alley. But as long as the garbage containers are taken back to their rightful homes afterward, and the traffic through the alley is not at 40 mph, we can be patient and deal with it. It's called living in a community. We can deal.
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