I have to watch my classism.
Like all isms, it can just slip right out.
My preschool is in a sleepy little neighborhood, right on the edge of unincorporated Portland, right where the rural meets the low rent urban.
Where the sidewalk ends, literally.
Twenty years ago this part of town, just five miles from my urban home, was another world, Aunt Ruth lived out this way, and it felt rural, rough and a little unsafe.
Gentrification has brought the city fast and furiously, and the neighbors are not any happier about it than I am about New Yorkers moving in and tearing down old houses in inner SE.
The preschool is beautiful.
It has been lovingly and thoughtfully remodeled.
The yard is clean and fenced with charming cedar fencing.
It looks classy and tasteful.
Our neighbor has three monster trucks and an RV with a tarp.
He frequently places free things in front of his ramshackle ranch house.
He stands outside with his companions saying "FUCK" and "GOD DAMN IT!"
His children skateboard in the street.
He is terrible, deeply and personally disturbed by people parking on the shoulder of the road.
He is terribly, deeply and personally disturbed by me parking in front of the school, rather than in the driveway.
Several times a week he accosts one of my preschool parents and rants and raves at them about the street parking.
He tells them he OWNS the grass across from his house.
He does not.
His understanding of ownership comes from when the city added sewer service to the part of town, and charged all the residents to hook it up.
In his mind, that gives him ownership.
He is a scary man, a bully, with unwashed hair, and a scowl.
He made two of my mothers cry.
Yesterday, in an ill conceived moment of friendliness I greeted him, on my way inside.
He was standing on the street in his bathrobe.
"Why don't you park in your driveway?"
"Because I don't want to be trapped in the driveway at the end of the day, while parents are chatting and strapping their children in to carseats."
Our circular conversation went on and on until,
"I will park where I want on this PUBLIC STREET!"
came out of my mouth.
I turned on my heels and left him stewing.
I never park in front of his house, and no one else does either.
He once told the owner of this house that it's "more mine than yours, because I mowed the lawn while it was bank owned!"
So clearly he is delusional.
Even so, I don't want to judge him, I just want him to leave me alone.
My clients use the driveway, and occasionally park very considerately in front of the school.
I want my rage over his shitty behavior to focus on the behavior, and not on his RV, or his trucks with the gunracks, or his lack of social skills.
All of that stuff turns him into a punchline for some folks.
I hope to keep it about the facts.