Tuesday, February 23, 2010

How Can People Live Like This?

In a previous post I wrote about taking a fare to *Starkville.I grew up in Starkville,and lived in the area for over 30 years.It was a borough of the big city back then,and has since become a city its self,with an approximate population of over 700,000 people.
But how things have changed,Starkville has become notorious for  gun crimes and gangs,some people now refer to it as Canada's version of Detroit.
After dropping off my fare at about 2:30 that morning, I needed fuel for the trip back to town.
Starkville though still a very clean and well-lit community, is pretty eerie at this hour of the day.
Maybe it was all the bad press in recent years that was coloring my perception, but I still hesitated about stopping for fuel.
I thought I might wait till I was out in the country side to fuel,but decided to suck up my apprehension and stopped in a at a Shell station.
I was prepared to pay first at the kiosk,before being allowed to fuel,as I have encountered this in other large metropolitan areas in the past.A requirement unheard of, where I live.
To my surprise the clerk-who was visible from the pumps-did not require me to do this,maybe because I was driving a cab,with the name and phone number in clear view.
After fueling I sat in the cab for a few minutes and completed some info on my trip sheet.
While I was doing this a young guy on a bike road up-with the typical attire of todays youth,a hoodie,baggy pants etc.
I noticed when he tried to enter the store the door was locked.Apparently the clerk-and the many surveillance cameras surrounding the place-scan customers before allowing them in.
I saw that the clerk was checking this guy out-and then I heard a buzzer go off,releasing the locks and allowing him to enter the store.
At this point another fellow came walking up towards the direction of the door,but saw me,and instead headed towards my cab.
He tried to get in the back seat-I wisely keep my doors locked- and when that failed he knocked on my passenger side window.
I powered the window down a few inches,and he asked me for a ride up the street.
I told him no,I was not from around here,and not licensed to pick up fares in the city.
That was true,though my chances of being caught by a licensing official at that hour of the day were slim to none.
I felt a little silly about be so cautious with the dude,but I figured this isn't the Starkville that I grew up in-so better safe then sorry.

    The Starkville of my youth was rough around the edges.I went to a tough Catholic school were brawls were an everyday occurence.Guys would fight with chains,screw drivers,whatever was handy,or what ever they brought to school tucked in their jackets.
But most of the time it was just knuckles, and no serious injuries were inflicted.
Though a few of the guys I went to school with did end up in motorcycle gangs,in jail or both.
But gun crime's were almost unheard of,and if one did occur, it made the front page of the paper.
You could still walk the streets at any hour of the night-which my friends and I often did-with out the fear of being accosted.
It was pretty much an atmosphere of  "if you minded your own business,and didn't go looking for trouble-you wouldn't find any".
I can't imagine ever-living their today-it seems every time you open the paper,there is another story about the violence in Starkville.
Murder,armed robbery,and police chases, are now occurring on a regular basis.
It would seem that as every day passes,our big cities are becoming more and more like those in the U.S.A.
I have a friend who lives in the southern U.S.She was relating to me one time about her shopping trip to a Wal-Mart store in Alabama,where they have "armed guards" at the front door!
I was stunned-"armed guards at a department store??" I had never heard of such a thing-I mean at our Wal-Mart we have senior citizens with pasted grins standing at the door.
She went on to tell me that in the apartment building where she lives,there is an armed guard in the lobby 24-7.
Now that to me, is some scary shit.Is that what we here in Canada are destined for? Unfortunately,at least in our large urban areas,that may very well be the case.

*I have used a fictious name here.