By Renae Brabham
My phone rang and I looked down at the call coming in, it was my granddaughter. We had just finished a long conversation a half hour earlier, so I was surprised to see her name on my incoming screen. I knew something was wrong when I answered, I could hear the shakiness in her voice.
“Grandma, I am so upset! Something crazy just happened here and I feel like a second class citizen, like these people think I am a criminal or something."
"Whoa, what happened?" I asked.
"I went to my dog sitting job, it's in a gated community.The clients were still home and I thought I would let them leave before I came in, I didn’t want to interrupt their last minute packing. I decided to pull over at the park to eat my lunch and give them time to leave. There were two ladies there, one old and one young. They watched me pull up and saw me eating. They kept staring and then went over to each other and kept looking back and talking. Then one of the ladies walked past me, glaring, she was so close to me that she could touch me. She picked up a football in the park and walked over to a car like mine a mustang. I could see there were two young school aged teens inside. The women told them something and pointed at me and the boys started staring as well. I finished eating and went to leave and the boys pulled in behind me. They followed me staying right on my bumper, then they stopped and pulled up beside me and glared like the women did back at the park. I just don't understand this." she said.
“Yes, I know exactly what this is, and I am so sorry you went through it.” I told her.
I call it privilege paranoia. I have experienced this more and more in the past years as a service provider. Our business requires us to work in gated communities all the time. Along with the absolutely phenomenal customers that we have, the communities are also full of Nosy Nellie’s and Picky Pete’s — and it’s not just in gated communities anymore. It’s spilling over into developments everywhere. I know this because I lived in one. Actually, it was one of the reasons we wanted to move to the country. People were fighting everywhere and about everything! Feed the ducks; don’t feed the ducks; dog poop on ground; dog poop smell; late postal delivery; suspicious car; child alone at the park on a swing; child didn’t have a pass to the pool; vehicle didn’t have a sticker on his car; their grass is 1-inch over regulation; they had four cars in their driveway; they left their garage door open all day; they left their garbage can out all day; house trim color is hideous; their trim needs painting; their shrubs need trimming; and the list goes on and on.
We saw and heard it all. If you want an idea of how it goes, join your community Facebook page. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy to have caring neighbors and I understand that HOA rules and regulations are set up to ensure a better living environment. Their restrictions are fine if that is what you agree to, BUT — let better judgment prevail.
When you see a beautiful young lady or, hell, even an ugly old ass lady sitting in her (beautiful black mustang) car eating a sandwich, can’t you just assume that is all they are doing? What triggers you to think she is a child snatcher, a package thief, a criminal you need to corral out of the park? If you see a 60-year-old grandmother driving a company truck looking lost can you just assume that she IS lost and not a serial killer?
This happened to me in a community last year. I pulled up to the community gate, which opens to the public at 9 a.m. I followed a truck through the gate. After getting about 20 feet in the gate the man put his brakes on and got out. He walked back to me and asked what the nature of my visit was. I told him I had a quote to give.
He said, “You piggy-backed into the gate behind me.” I told him, “No, the gate opens at 9 to everyone.” He said “It’s not 9 yet.”
I looked at the clock on my dashboard, it was 8:58.
He asked me if the business name on the side of the truck was my business. I wanted to say “No, I put these magnets on so I could pose as a legit business while I come in here to case you out for a robbery.” He then walked to the back of my truck and pulls out his phone to take a picture of my license tag. By this time I am done with Barney Fife wanna be cop and pulled out. I left him with his mouth open in my rear view mirror. I cut a few blocks and lost him but was shaking by the time I got to my clients house. She was very apologetic, she said she didn’t know what was wrong with these anal people in her community.
All I am saying is give peace a chance. You would have liked my granddaughter. The neighbor of yours that she was dog sitting for would have recommended her to you to care for your pet. And she might even have forgiven your crude ass and done so. She is working two jobs to go to school in the fall.
Me, I’m a little charred. You left a bad taste in my mouth. I wouldn’t be rude or nasty but I‘d mutter under my breath, “Bless their teeny weenie privileged ass hearts.”