Where the Hell is Everyone?

Seven of these on a quarter-mile long stretch of street and not one person out playing basketball on a beautiful 75-degree day.
Seven of these on a quarter-mile long stretch of street and not one person out playing basketball on a beautiful 75-degree day.

Before I get into the topic of today’s blog, let me update you on the back surgery rehab and whatnot. After walking 18 miles in three days over Memorial Day weekend, I took Tuesday off and went for a walk Wednesday evening after work. I must have pulled a muscle or something. I have had a knot of pain in my butt on the left side since about 20 feet into that walk. The severity comes and goes at this point. I took Thursday and Friday off from any distance walking and went 4 ¼ yesterday. After the walk, my incision area swelled up. I went online and did some research I am finding out that I am not the only person to whom this has happened. I will be calling the surgeon’s office in the morning to allay my fears.

Did I walk too far? Did I walk too fast? What’s causing the swelling? Is it a cause for concern? Who knows? More questions than answers right now. I have some tightness from the swelling and a bit of pain when I bend over (which I have to keep at a minimum). For the most part, my hips feel great, the pre-op injury pain is long gone. I am fairly certain this is all part of the process and I am a bit paranoid. Okay, I’m a lot paranoid.

Now, on to the point of today’s entry. Where the hell is everybody? I went for a nice slow walk today, maybe a mile and a half. Granted, it was pretty hot yesterday. I do live in a fairly quiet neighborhood. But I can practically count the number of people I have seen outside on both hands. And I am not talking about exercisers.

Since today’s walk was a bit more leisurely, I made it a point to pay attention. On one street, maybe a quarter mile long, I counted seven street facing adjustable portable basketball hoops. They were all set at varying heights. I mention that because the lower the hoop, the more an indication of the presence of children. Seven hoops. Not one child playing basketball. It was partly sunny and 75 degrees when I left the house. I saw one girl on a long-distance run, one guy selling produce on the street corner, another guy (who I see quite often) on a distance run, and two women leaving a house in flip-flops for what I assume was a casual walk.

I saw more folks out and about yesterday when it was 90 degrees and sunny. A few folks were in the their garages chatting it up, a young man was out jogging with his dog (a bit hot for that but they took frequent breaks), a girl almost ran me over with her bicycle, a pair of women were out for an exercise walk. But what I didn’t see were many people congregating in front of their homes.

I run or walk at all times of the day. This is not a morning thing or afternoon thing. I go out in the evening and I see, or don’t see, the same things.

Living in Northern California, especially where I do, the weather is tolerable at a minimum almost the entire year. Since we’re in the middle of the longest drought in state history, we don’t even have rain to dampen outdoor activities.

Maybe it’s the architecture of the homes here. We don’t have porches. Most folks don’t have front yard seating like we did in the northeast when I was a kid. We had lawn chairs though. Just about every evening, the neighbors would gather on a porch, front steps, a stoop, something, for some conversation and an adult beverage or two. Nobody overstayed their welcome, everyone was free to go back to their homes and do whatever they did the rest of the evening. It wasn’t a party, there was no occasion. My parents and their contemporaries would just congregate and chat. They’d discuss work, gossip about other neighbors, talk about us kids, or just sit and enjoy each other’s company.

And as far as us kids were concerned, we ran the streets without parental supervision. GASP! I’ve actually been reading about parents getting arrested for letting their children go to the park unsupervised. Glad they didn’t do this when I was a kid. Every parent in the neighborhood would have spent time in the clink.

LL Cool J couldn't live without his radio.
LL Cool J couldn’t live without his radio.

We were the boombox generation. One of us would carry the giant ass radio and about eight to 10 of us would just walk the streets. Other times we’d be in the empty lot at the end of my street playing football or baseball, we’d be in my backyard playing basketball, we’d be at the park on the swings and slide. We would go door-to-door to sell things to raise funds for little league baseball and football uniforms, school trips, etc. We used to walk to our little league practices. Parents didn’t attend practice, only the games. I guess we live in a world of child molesters, kidnappers and other such ne’er-do-wells and miscreants.

I can go months without seeing my next-door neighbor. Months. Shared a fence with other neighbors for two years before meeting them. There’s one neighbor who helps out and takes an interest. He’ll toss the newspaper over the fence if it sits in your driveway too long so it doesn’t look like you’re away. He’ll pop over if he sees you outside. Turns out that he’s friends with the father of one of my coworkers – small world we live in.

Everyone knows I am not a “happy-go-lucky” kind of a guy. But I either smile and/or nod to every passerby. What really bugs me is when that nod or smile is not returned. Too bad I can’t go all Pai Mei vs. the Shaolin Monk on them. I must admit, it has been a quiet weekend for the exercisers of the community. There usually are quite a few joggers, dog walkers, bicyclists and whatnot.

The city I live in is described as a “bedroom community.”

This would be one of the only times I would cite the Urban Dictionary and consider the entry close to accurate (with the exception of the kids comment).

Bedroom Community

A suburban community/town with little to no major employment center(s) to call its own. People only seem to sleep there when they’re not working 80 Hrs./wk closer in to the city where the jobs are. The only commercial space is retail & services for the residents (banks, groceries, malls, etc.) Residents often choose bedroom communities because of affordablility relative to living closer to the city, lower perceived crime, and schools with students that look just like their kids.

We do have a couple of major employers here, we have tons of restaurants and commerce, the city government has done a lot to bring jobs here, but it’s still considered a bedroom community. The housing market is rebounding after the crash of 2008.

A still image from a Twilight Zone episode depicting an empty town.
A still image from a Twilight Zone episode depicting an empty town.

Have we become a society of shut-ins? Are we distrustful of the people next door? Has the proliferation of news stories about the Jeffrey Dahmers of the world made us that afraid of our fellow man? Are we suburbanites backyard dwellers? I have a pool in which I like to spend most of the summer. Some measure of entertaining goes on.

I don’t know if I have a point. Maybe it’s the same as it is with my back, more questions than answers. I spent 10 years in the military. Maybe while I was away things like this changed. I do know the folks we used to hang out with on the porch in my hometown all moved away.

We all have our interests. We all have things we like to do. Time and conversation with friendly neighbors used to be one of them. Maybe people do go outside and it’s just the backyard instead of the front. Maybe my blog about the death of journalism where I discuss too many entertainment options is true.

I enjoy living in a quiet neighborhood but the silence on the weekends is eerie. I don’t get it. Maybe I’m just paranoid.

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One thought on “Where the Hell is Everyone?

  1. Pingback: Taking Stock, Doing More Research and Where the Hell is Everyone Redux – The Jerry Project

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