Monday, September 15, 2008

Two Kinds of Dumb

I love my neighborhood. It’s older and established. Before this mortgage/housing crisis hit, homes in my neighborhood never made it past one day on the market before they were snatched up. A good majority of homeowners here are original owners that built their homes in the mid 70s. There is no feeling of competition, no “keeping up with the joneses.” Our neighbors are retired, in their mid 60s, and the nicest most hard-working people alive. I feel no need to compete with people and maintain appearance or image.

We moved away from our last home due to urban sprawl and the infestation of leasing companies and rentals. It was a starter neighborhood with very small, affordable homes. It is still largely a cute neighborhood and we have several friends there.When we sold our home, a leasing company bought the place and renters drove our cute little home and yard into the ground. Even worse, driving through the neighborhood I grew up in now feels like a Mad Max movie. I half expect to see Lord Humungus leaping from the rooftops, ragamuffins in loincloths, and spiked Delorians on fire.

There is a home in my neighborhood that went neglected. The yard looked like the land that time forgot, and it’s clear that the home needed some work. A few months ago the For Sale sign went down. We were all interested to see who wanted to take on this project, and I personally hoped we might get a new young family with kids Talmage’s age. I found out on Sunday that a “church group” bought the property and will use it as a halfway house for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts. There are FIVE rehabilitating Hispanic men living in that house right now.

There is a movie called “Hoosiers” which is easily one of the five best sports movies ever made. An unconventional renegade high school basketball coach (Gene Hackman) moves to a tiny farming community in Indiana to take the job as head coach. Basketball is life for these people and quiet friendly folk will turn into your worst nightmare if you mess with their team. In his first practice he kicks out the interim coach, George, and ruffles some feathers. The conversation between coach and George is arguably the best exchange in any movie, ever:

Coach: First of all, let's be real friendly here, okay? My name is Norm. Secondly, your coaching days are over.
George: Look, mister, there's... two kinds of dumb, uh... guy that gets naked and runs out in the snow and barks at the moon, and, uh, guy who does the same thing in my living room. First one don't matter, the second one you're kinda forced to deal with.
Coach: Translate. That some sort of threat?
George: I don't know why Cletus drug your tired old bones in here, he musta owed you somethin' fierce. Fact is, mister, you start screwin' up this team, I'll personally hide-strap your ass to a pine rail and send you up the Monon Line!
[George angrily turns and storms out of the gym]
Coach: Leave the ball, will you, George?

This example draws a few parallels to my current situation. My neighborhood is Sleepy Town, Indiana. My peace and privacy and kids’ safety is like basketball to the Hoosiers. I am George. I have been enjoying a solid, simple, quiet existence and my wife and kids are my EVERYTHING. They are the air that I breathe. If this church group, aka Coach Norman Dale, comes into my town and disturbs that safety and peace, then they’ll find their asses hide-strapped to a pine rail floating down the Jordan River.

I plan to make things excruciating for this group. Like George's take on naked men howling at the moon in the snow, I have no problem with drug and alcohol rehabilitation. I encourage it. But there is a time and a place, and the time and place is NOT in my living room, 30 seconds from my doorstep as the crow flies. There are facilities for this kind of thing and I’m relatively sure that single family residential homes are not zoned and planned for it. This is something I'm forced to deal with. I’ll be working with a few other people in the neighborhood to find out if they’re zoned, licensed, legally and legitimately able to run a rehab halfway house in my neighborhood. If they find a loophole and are somehow able to carry on, I’ll be making regular phone calls to 9-1-1:

“Yeah, I just drove past this house in my neighborhood and there are half-naked people having a cocaine fight on the front lawn.”

“Um, yeah, dispatcher there’s a bunch of drunk people on the roof of this house singing ‘That’s Amore’ in Spanish.”

“Hurry, send help quick, there’s BLOOD EVERYWHERE!”

I’ll have that For Sale sign back up in no time.


Snyder-mom said...

I can appreciate your story here. I used to live in a condo in a less than desireable neighborhood. Police dispatch knew our neck of the woods all too well. We saw them in our complex on a daily basis. (We are in a much better place now THANK HEAVEN!)

I feel for your situation.
Much luck to you.

Renee said...

lol...Tyler, that was funny. However, you'll be not seeing the Layton family in loincloths in the "ol' neighborhood"!

BTW...did you know that I served my mission where Hoosiers was huh? AND people are really that crazy about basketball. Seriously...

Ok, so have you gone before City Council concerning this halfway house? I'd totally hop on to your councilmember & go to Open Forum in their city council meetings. I'd be FURIOUS! BTW, your new neighborhood is beautiful!

Mandy said...

I'm sorry I haven't read in a few days... been a little busy :)

I am going to call the city too and make damn sure that they know this is UNacceptable! I know Tim and Stuart are, and maybe even Neil. I don't think this neighborhood is zoned to have an organization. Family dwelling only!