Is The Beautiful Life More Common East of the Park?

A reader writes:

“So, we read and hear all the time about all the down sides to our neighborhoods – the crime, the racism, crack houses next door. What we don’t always hear about are the really great things about living in our area of the city. I had an experience in Columbia Heights that is a good example – and perhaps we could hear what other people have experienced?

I was at the Giant in Columbia Heights, rushing to get food and props for a baby shower I was hosting the next morning. I’d been out of town and crazy busy with work, so I was super stressed out. I got my groceries and got in the elevator to go to my car, when I realized that I’d forgotten to get my parking validated. There was a young guy in the elevator with me – maybe late 20’s – and he noticed my “I’m so tired and stressed I want to cry” state. He offered to give me his validated ticket and go back and get mine done. My first reaction was that this was a scam – he’d probably been there 48 hours or something and wanted my ticket so his parking would be free. I resisted. He then offered to go down and get my ticket stamped and bring it up to me, so I could unload my groceries. I was still wary, but gave in. He brought the ticket back to me just as I finished loading the car and the whole way to the street I kept thinking “this better not be a scam.” But it wasn’t – he really had just taken the extra time on a perfectly good Friday night to go get my ticket validated for me. That sort of thing never happened to me west of the park where everyone was too concerned about themselves – so that is one of the many reasons I love life in PoPdom.”

The beautiful life can be experienced at the most unexpected times. Not exactly the same but my favorite experience was when I was told to put some glide in my stride. Do you think these experiences are more common east of the park? What’s been your favorite encounter with the beautiful life?

24 Comment

  • I have found that when folks share a life that is a little rougher, where people have to work harder to make it through, there is a greater bind amongst one another. Not something that folks who have a caddy to carry their golf clubs would understand.

  • Question to the author – did this good Samaritan try to ask you out/ pick you up after his good deed?

  • yeah… people west of the park are very… self-absorbed…

  • Our next door neighbor is an elderly man in his 90’s. He was recently in a very bad car accident and no longer drives. One of my roommates (not Eddie that I posted for the best roommate contest) offered to take him to the grocery store after work. This he did from the goodness in his heart and I think it is worth mentioning because it was something Chris had no intention of people knowing about as he simply wanted to help out or neighbor and friend. Also I think it is the kind of thing that is dying out today, good old fashion youth helping out their elders simply because it is the right thing to do.

  • My neighbor sits on the stoop with me about once a week to just talk. I drink beer; he drinks Gatorade (he’s nine). I tell him about being a lawyer, my wife who I adore, and dreams of making art all day; he tells me about school, his folks who are recent immigrants, and dreams about college.

  • I got a cute nickname “snow bunny” walking home from work one night!

  • In my last building (in AM), there were the two sweetest little girls (actually, at least one was in middle school by the time I left). Every time I saw them (I got the impression they’d sometimes hang out in the lobby during the summer for the seriously high a/c), they’d jump up to let me in, respond politely to questions about what they were up to at school or on their vacation, etc. I just thought their parents deserved a lot of credit for raising such pleasant, polite children when so many kids today seem really thoughtless or outright rude.

  • To answer the question from Anonymous, no, he did not hit on me or ask me out at all. Maybe he checked out my left hand and noticed my ring, I don’t know. He was obviously dressed up to go out, and it was just so surprising to have someone inconvenience themselves for someone they didn’t know and didn’t hit on.

    To follow on to Lau – our next door neighbors are Salvadorean. My husband speaks Spanish, so he has a good relationship with the parents, but the kids speak to us in English all the time. They are the most amazing and polite children. When we were moving my mother in recently, they came over unasked and started helping us move boxes in. Again – their parents really deserve a lot of praise.

  • I agree 100% with the premise that there is more “beautiful life” in CH. I have more stories than time to type here, but most touching was when my husband and I got married, the semi-illiterate elderly janitor in my condo building gave us a card with $50. It was by far the most touching gift we got, I have tears in my eyes thinking about it now. (And when Christmas came I gave him a card with $100)

  • i got made fun of for being white the other day. that was beautiful.

  • Damn, there are two Nate’s on here. My authenticity is in question. Anyway, my neighbors keep such a good watch out on the block that we often leave our doors unlocked and never even worry about getting the house broken in to.

  • I fondly remember the time five kids pulled a gun on me and demanded my wallet on Georgia Avenue. That was a fine example of the beautiful life.

    People spitting at me as I walk down 14th Street. More beautiful life.

    “people west of the park are very… self-absorbed…” Get real.

  • “Beautiful Life” – What is this even suppose to mean?

  • CP, I think you are right. Oftentimes we reach to try and find something redeeming about people when the majority of things are not to our liking. People west of the Park may be self absorbed. But I will take that in a NY minute over people east of the Park. The difference can literally be life or death.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    The way I see it is – you can pass a patch of land and see some beautiful flowers and some weeds. You can stop and say, “damn those are some beautiful flowers” or you can say, “damn I hate those weeds”. No one is right or wrong. It’s just what you want to focus on.

    There is no literal definition to the beautiful life but as the saying goes “if you have to ask”…

  • saf

    I have neighbors that I love. When we moved in, all the older ladies in the block stopped by, introduced themselves, brought food, said hi… They were so sweet. I still love the ones who remain, and miss those who have passed.

    The kids – well, they aren’t kids any more, they’re all in their 20s now, but they were kids when I met them – two doors over are the sweetest and most helpful kids ever. Carrying things, helping with yard work, helping when I wasn’t walking well… they’re just great kids.

    My bus drivers get to know their regular riders and always have a kind word.

    We left Mt Pleasant almost 20 years ago now. Yet still, when I walk down the street over there, I run into people I know, who stop to chat.

  • i’m the “Capital N” Nate.

    thats true PoP, and i totally agree, but sometimes it is hard to focus on the flowers when the weeds are demanding your wallet.

  • What gets me is that, at least in my area, 90% of the people are great, and 10% are animals. While the 90% deserve their credit, I will move ASAP because the 10% are so threatening, unpleasant, rude, etc. So its not a numbers game, its their impact on the neighborhood. One guy who’s a killa outweighs all the nice people on the block.

    So, rather than the flowers / weeds analogy, its more like walking by nice flowers and seeing a bumble bee. The flowers are nice and all, but that small bumble bee coming at you is what you focus on.

    Ahhh caffeinated analogies…

  • i know you can’t completely escape the troubles of this world, but the older i get, i, too, have grown increasingly weary of the physical and mental mayhem of this city.. i would also like to remind my white friends and neighbors that these “angels” give me a hard time as well.

  • Capital Nate,
    not only do we share the same name, we share the same outlook on things.

  • Oh holy crap! Double the nate, double the debate.

  • i couldn’t possibly say life in my little patch of way-up-there petworth is perfect, but i absolutely adore my block. i live halfway down it, and every night when i walk home i get to chat with folks on as many as 5 porches, and i know almost all the little kids who are invariably outside on some combo of bikes, skateboards, and scooters. my favorite is “daniel,” an amazing 9-year-old who’ll fly down the block toward me hollering my name. he even colored a picture of spiderman for me and wrote my name on it. walking home on my block will usually turn me right around if i’ve had a bad day. and i’ve only lived there since march.

  • I don’t enjoy my little patch of Eckington. The crime is rampant, violent teenagers that lack respect for themselves and others, baby mamas and baby daddies… this city is whack!

  • youdontknowme: Considering the fact that bumblebees are basically harmless, I think your analogy misses the mark.

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