Thursday, April 3, 2008

Urban vs Suburban Stealth

I'm tired, and fighting off a cold, so I'm not sure if this will make any sense.

But I'm realizing how different trying to blend into a suburban environment is, instead of an urban one.

In an urban environment, being LOUD blends me in. I find it very easy, because that's my nature. Breezing along, doing my thing, with a little bit of an attitude, like, "hey, I belong here", makes me invisible. Everyone is anonymous anyway. Nobody gives a damn. People working are just doing their 9-to-5 (or whatever shift) and don't mind me doing whatever I want as long as I don't put them out or get them into trouble. This morning I walked into a bathroom in a random office building while a dude was painting the stalls. All he cared about was that I didn't mess up his wet paint. No prob. I asked if I could close the door and he said sure. Nobody cares, people mind their own business. They're just trying to make a living. I can dump my van garbage into a can next to a bus stop, and the people waiting for the bus certainly don't mind. In an urban environment, the only threats to me are thieves and graffitti "artists"-- my "stealth" goal is to stay hidden from them. The loud, well-lit, fairly busy areas keep me safer. I am not hiding from authority as much as hiding from criminals or predators.

But in a suburban environment, being quiet and kind of finicky is the only way to blend in. People care a lot, about everything. Homeowners and people who own their businesses take everything really seriously. This evening I had a terrible time finding parking in the City. The only spots I could find were in "tree lined" areas and I kept backing into the trees-- which were so low that I couldn't actually get into the spaces! I also don't feel well and I wanted quiet. So I headed out to the suburbs. I pulled into a suburban gas station to check any damage to my van. I found a huge tree branch stuck to the gap in my roll-up door! I took the branch out and put it next to a shrub growing out of the curb in front of the gas station. The gas station owner came out, livid, yelling at me to clean up the "mess"! Leaves and branches are a mess? Compost is good for plants, ya know. The transition from urban to suburban can be jarring and kind of frightening. In a suburban environment, the biggest threats to me are homeowners, business owners, and cops-- my "stealth" goal is to stay hidden from them. I am hiding from authority. That requires a totally different way of being: very polite, very careful, very quiet. And I actually don't like it very much.

All in all, I much prefer the urban approach to the suburban approach. If I had better soundproofing in the van, I'd probably never go near a suburb again.

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