Who are the People in Your Neighborhood? [Tall Drink of Nerd]
6:00 a.m. last Thursday morning, I stumbled into the living room and popped on the TV morning news. There was a pretty newscaster breaking news that James “Whitey” Bulger had been arrested in Santa Monica.
‘Hmm’ I thought ‘Whitey Bulger, that name sounds kinda familiar.’ I called my husband into the room and told him that a gangster, Whitey Bulger, had been arrested. They then flashed his address and we realized he had been living one, singular block from our apartment.
News trucks and gawkers filled Third Street and the old man’s picture quickly became a standard image on every news broadcast. I studied the image, had I seen him on my daily walks in our ocean front park? Had we passed each other while shopping on the promenade? Did he hog any of the cardio equipment at my gym? Through national news, we got to know our, now former, neighbor.
He was serious bad news, a mob boss who, among a long list of nastiness, murdered of at least 19 people. Nineteen lives gone due to him. As a non-murderer, I have a hard time getting my mind around that. When the loss of one life is overwhelmingly tragic, the loss of 19 lives due to the violence of one man is hard for me to understand. That stuff isn’t mythic or romantic, it’s just effing horrible.
All this got me thinking about who else might be living around me. Santa Monica is a friendly beach neighborhood, that is part of LA, but definitely it’s own town. Santa Monica creates a sense of community with fun and free activities on the pier, the beach, the promenade or the library pretty much every weekend. Locals tend to befriend each other with a proud camaraderie.
I’m on speaking terms with the folks in my building. I’m on waving and/or nodding terms with people I see repeatedly in the park, but other than that, I have no idea who is living around me. Do you know the people who live around you? It shouldn’t be too hard for me to do, I just haven’t made the effort. That’s a damn shame.
So Whitey had me re-evaluate social relationships in my own backyard. While I’m pretty happy I never had the opportunity to chat with a mass murder, it made me want to get to know the rest of the people who live around me. Surely the majority of my remaining neighbors are fine, upstanding members of society…or at least not on the FBI 10 Most Wanted list.