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Posted: 10/13/2004 5:46:01 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/13/2004 5:49:52 AM EDT by Happyshooter]
Philadelphia based reporter sees neighbors upset about honking truck, all Bush's fault!

Getting trucked: An American nightmare

Posted: October 13, 2004
1:00 a.m. Eastern

© 2004 Maralyn Lois Polak

Think things are dicey overseas lately? Let me tell you how much folks are on edge right here in these United States. Last week, in my charming downtown Philadelphia neighborhood of quaint historical row-houses, a near-riot broke out.

Sleepy weeknight after supper, clearing dishes while meditating on dispatching Dubs back to Crawford, then chaos erupts:

Suddenly, a truck horn blasts through our tiny residential block. This sucker's loud – huge Diesel-engine tractor-trailer. After a few short bursts, idiot driver's even further deranged, sits on horn, won't quit. Since it's a small street, noise ricochets maddeningly off brick walls – unbearably disturbing.

I go outside, certain the culprit's connected with the corner supermarket. Sure enough, it's a grocery delivery truck. Long story short, first visit to our street, driver's finished unloading, ready to leave. Despite a no-parking rule, three cars block his path. Truck-driver could back out, but refuses, disregarding manager's entreaties. Instead, dude becomes unhinged, sonically tortures whole neighborhood with his screaming horn, his thunderous Diesel engine, his thought-obliterating refrigeration unit, his stupid curses.

Lo, the residents of the street rise up as one body and rush out their front doors. Never seen them so agitated. An explosive mob. Ready to kill. Epithets are exchanged. One irate resident, male nurse built like Sumo wrestler, goes inside store, spewing f-words at management in front of shocked customers. Outside, night crew rivals "Dirty Dozen" for dodgy characters – one takes off his glasses preparing to punch resident for reminding how late-night argument with co-worker almost ended in knife-fight.

Police are called. Naturally, they don't respond.

Ordinarily this is a mostly pleasant block, although teetering on the brink of hostile yuppie takeover. After a multi-million-dollar performing arts center's built nearby, real estate values skyrocket – not necessarily bad thing for residents' investments. But besides wreaking havoc with the concept of "community," it's attracted hordes of the "wrong" people – folks with more money than brains.

For instance, young yuppie couple across the street paints stucco front of their newly purchased townhouse goldenrod with maroon trim. They actually import an immigrant painting crew from Pittsburgh, nine-hour drive by van, paying transportation expenses, because painters' fee is so low. When the yuppies don't like the color combo, a few days later they have the house repainted white.

Wretched excess, anyone?

Suppose, for argument's sake, restaurant cuisine's an index of social change. Well, the local cafe's gone from serving $1.75 corn muffins in a funky gallery-coffeehouse setting, to $28-a-plate gourmet fare amidst elegant continental decor. Neighborhood's overrun with interlopers! Entitled empty nesters descend in droves from suburbs. Luxury condo towers threaten placid historic vistas. And breeders, yes, those self-centered, financially flush parents of – shudder – America's future, proliferate faster than killer mold in my friend "Pastina's" basement. Last month, a neighbor attacked the hood of a honking taxicab at midnight with his penknife. Awhile back, the teenage son of renters next door tried to strangle his mother because he didn't feel like finishing his homework.


This upsurge of gentrification and its discontents brings monthly rents of $1,200 for one-bedroom apartments, attracting jaded college students living on Mommy and Daddy's dime. As for erstwhile neighborhood residents, most of the pleasanter people – artists, musicians and professors on the block – finished school, moved away or fled to relatively undeveloped sections of the city to become urban pioneers in less chic surroundings.

Meanwhile, back at the near-riot, the assistant store manager – a decent guy who looks like Clark Kent – fields an avalanche of neighborhood outrage. Since he believes his store's complied with many community concerns over the years – purchasing a forklift to speed up deliveries, muting its reverse gears, posting a sign mandating delivery trucks turn engines off immediately – he's bewildered at the intense hostility, wondering "has something changed in the past month to trigger all this?"

Sure. The war. The president. The lies. The ineptitude. The deaths. The fakery, manipulation, misrepresentation. Rising fuel costs. Edgy about jobs and health coverage. Feeling powerless over our lives. The campaign. Fears for the future.

"And," intuitive counselor 'Sforza Destino' prompts later, "don't forget being force-fed TV violence. It's unbelievably bad."

Eventually, two hours pass, manager calls cops again, they come, cars disperse, truck leaves, store permanently bans driver. Later, manager confides sometimes he can't face leaving his house to walk his dog because he's worried he'll find something wrong. I tell him I know what he means. Then I go home to watch the debate.


Maralyn Lois Polak is a Philadelphia-based journalist, essayist, novelist, editor and radio personality. She is the author of a number of books including her latest, a multi-media CD-Rom, "Miranda Pear's Brazen Bedtime Stories: Un-PC Fairytales for Grown-Ups," available from BooksOnScreen.com and by special order at Borders and Barnes and Noble. She's also the author of the collection of literary profiles, "The Writer as Celebrity: Intimate Interviews," and several volumes of poetry, including "The Bologna Sandwich and Other Poems of LOVE and Indigestion." Her books can be ordered by contacting her directly.


Link Posted: 10/13/2004 6:01:41 AM EDT
they forgot greasy food
Link Posted: 10/13/2004 6:12:17 AM EDT
"Force-fed TV violence?" People JUST DON'T GET IT!!!

Last time I turned on the television was Monday night. I watched about five minutes of a Simpsons rerun. I don't even remember looking toward the television last night, and I doubt I'll have it on tonight. (No, I'm not watching the debate.)
Link Posted: 10/13/2004 6:17:15 AM EDT
Philadelphia - City of Brotherly love.

Link Posted: 10/13/2004 6:22:29 AM EDT
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