Every city and town contains people of different classes: rich, poor, and somewhere in between. What’s it like where you live? If it’s difficult for you to discern and describe the different types of classes in your locale, describe what it was like where you grew up — was it swimming pools and movie stars, industrial and working class, somewhere in between or something completely different?
As you can tell from the picture, I live on the East Coast, inland by about three hours. There are lots and lots of neighborhoods like this one. I live in an older development, probably between 60 and 70 years old, where the houses tend to be ranchers set on close to an acre of ground that mostly rolls out behind the house.
Middle class. Nothing outstanding about our neighborhood at a casual glance. We have good neighbors all around us, though, so let me tell you a little about that.
A year or so ago, early on a weekday morning, there was that heart-stopping squeal of rubber on pavement, and then a THUD, followed by total silence for several seconds. I’d been getting dressed, so I hurried that process and went to look out the window. Across the road from our place, a car was mashed up nose first into the trunk of a stately old pine. You could see the tire marks on the road, and the deep ruts in the grass before the car seems to have gone airborne before it landed solidly in the tree.
Talk about stomach-dropping.
I threw on a hoodie and went outside, where several people were already on the scene. No police or EMT’s yet, so the lady who lives in the house, who is a nurse, approached the driver’s side and tried to discern how much damage had been done to him.
Turns out he was about 16 or 17, had been trying to beat his buddy to school, misjudged his speed and tried to pass his buddy. The buddy, wise young man, put his brakes on right away and steered to the side of the road because he could see in excruciating detail what was about to happen. Oncoming cars, high speed, no shoulders to the road. Bad.
By the time I got to the scene and began asking if anyone had called for help (which they had) the driver in the wrecked car was loudly begging someone to get him out RIGHT NOW. My nurse neighbor did her best to calm him. Others brought blankets, hot drinks, cell phones so they could call his parents for him. He couldn’t use his arms because he was pinned by the steering wheel.
There is a happy ending to the story, just to reassure you. The boy had a broken leg and some cracked ribs, and I think a broken pelvis, but he’s recovered now. And he’s not the focus, anyway. I was annoyed with him, in spite of his fear and pain, because he was NOT thankful for the attention he was getting. His language was foul as he demanded to be freed.
It’s my middle class, ordinary neighbors I’m interested in. They were all very concerned, very willing to do whatever would be helpful. They consoled the friend who’d had to watch his buddy hit the tree. They offered to take that boy and his younger sister into their homes to be fed or comforted, and to call their parents. The boy, however, wanted to see his buddy set free and refused to leave the scene.
I ended up spending time with him. It’s what I do, you know? Find the most traumatized one and offer some sort of encouragement.
Not one neighbor told the driver in the car that it was his fault (it was); no one berated him for being so demanding and unpleasant (he was). They all showed great compassion and patience, and were willing to be late for work if they could be of any help or comfort.
I was so impressed. That wasn’t the first or last time, either. When Terry had the accident that has changed his life so dramatically, it was the same neighbor/nurse who heard the commotion and helped him inside, cleaned him up from blood and dirt, and made him as comfortable as possible. It was our next-door neighbor who helped me get Terry into the car to go to the ER. It has been all of the neighbors who surround us who have checked in on him, and still are.
We’re all just ordinary. There may be some wealthy older couples on our road, but they’re not ostentatious. They all cut their own grass, blow their own snow, and do a lot of their own repairs.
These are salt-of-the-earth people, and I’m pleased to live among them.