01 February 2010

Life in the 'Hood

My house got tagged by gang vandals last week. I live right across the street from a K–8 public school, on a street that hundreds of kids walk down every day. Perfect place to get a gang message across to a lot of impressionable young people. My big, white double garage doors were just too tempting. We discovered the graffiti last Tuesday morning when we went downstairs to go to school and work. Seeing it gave me the same sick, violated feeling I had when my house was broken into during my tenure as a Peace Corps volunteer.

I took pictures of the damage, then called my landlord and the police. The woman on the other end of the graffiti hotline just sighed when I told her what had been written on my garage (XV3 28). "Yup, we see that one a lot. That's the 18th Street gang." My landlord had someone come power wash the writing away by week's end.

According to my neighbor across the street, this is pretty common. Last year, the couple next door's car was tagged. I don't feel unsafe in my neighborhood, but this kind of incident is unsettling. I hated leaving the tags up for even a day; I felt branded and dirty. It was hard to explain it to Maddie and Riley in any meaningful way, although without any explanation at all, they understood that it was not a good thing and that it had been done by people who are not nice.

I hope the doors stay clean for a while. A long while.

We had dinner with friends last night. There was not enough wine, so Mark and his adolescent son walked a couple of blocks down the road to a convenience store to pick up some more.

"We got locked in the Plaid Pantry!" they exclaimed, looking triumphant upon their return.

Turns out that when they went to pay, no one was at the register and, at first glance, no one was to be found in the store. And the front door was padlocked shut. That's all a little unsettling. They had their phones, and an nearly endless supply of snack food, but they wanted to be at the party.

A little snooping around revealed that the cashier had taken a bathroom and cooler stocking break and, thinking that no one was in the store, had locked the doors so as not to be robbed blind while he was out back. He was startled, and apologetic.

An unexpected way to spend part of Sunday evening, to be sure.


Roads said...

Lock in at the liquor store.

Well, that's a story they could dine out on for quite a while. Once they'd escaped, obviously.

And I hope they stocked Guinness.

Watercolor said...

oy vey! scary! hugs!

rose said...

You might ask your landlord if he'd control motion detector floodlights. If he's not interested, perhaps offer to pay half, or all. It's not expensive to do-$150-200. It can be a little nervewracking when they are tripped by a passing kitty, but a real deterrent for those who do not want to be seen.

Betty M said...

Bored teens will tag anywhere - the side of my parents' house was tagged in a small quiet village in the bucolic picture postcard English countryside!! It still sucks though.

Abby said...

Not sure why you felt it necessary to single out public school children. Unless you think angelic private school children don't get up to such shenanigans?

Buck up buttercup, that's life in the city.

Snickollet said...


I did not at all mean to single out public schoolchildren as perpetrators of the crime. It could have been anyone. It's more that I think the proximity of my house to the school *could* have made it a more likely target. If they think it through enough, gang members might realize that impressionable kids at a K-8 are an audience that could be influenced by the gang message. Hundreds of kids walk past my house every day and would see the tags, for better or for worse.

Or for just random.

In any case, I'm no snob. I just don't like gang graffiti on my house.


Snickollet said...

PS to Abby:

Hope my edits make things more clear.


Abby said...

Thanks for the clarification, snickollet. Sorry to be prickly.

Katie said...

Oh my word! Locked in the store? That was my biggest fear growing up! Haha, what an awesome story to tell.

Vodka Mom said...

Locked IN at the liquor store? COunt me in.

(And I'll be over to help you clean next time....)

Jill said...

City, country... no one should have their property vandalized.

We lived in a quiet neighborhood, and some bored kid took a baseball bat to our garge windows last year. So, I have an idea of how you feel.

Wishful Nals said...

ohmygoodness. so scary. glad it was washed away quickly + hope it doesn't happen ever again. xo

Sadia said...

Oh dear! I was horrified at graffiti of certain male parts at our neighbourhood playscape, but how much worse on your home!!

Anonymous said...

Our shed got tagged (it abuts an alleyway). We've discovered that removing it is a temporary solution as they just come back and retag it. It is very frustrating. I hope that doesn't happen to your garage.

mek said...

When a garage at the mouth of our alley was tagged last summer, Cora pointed it out and said, "That's not a good way to draw. They need some paper!" A much more generous response than my own. Glad it got cleaned up quickly, hope it never comes back. Lots of businesses here in the Twin Cities are doing murals to discourage graffiti - perhaps you need a mural? ;)

Natika said...

Snick, I think most of the tagging is done by bored middle schoolers. I have a couple. Lord help us all if they get bored! Mine(the neighbor girl who lives here most the time, and my own) would never do anything illegal but obnoxious, yes!

I don't think you'll need to worry! Think what would of happen if you had a bag of flaming poo! Count your blessings!

Anonymous said...

I'm a big fan of graffiti, and a big defender of graffiti. But not on someone's house, and not for a gang. Even I'M irritated by what happened to you.

~ Jolene said...

SOOO annoying about the vandalizing. I hope it stays clean for a very long while too. I grew up in a neighborhood where vandalizing wasn't uncommon and I know exactly how you feel...it's awful. Anyhow, glad to hear you're picking up a lot of freelance work! Hope all is well!

winecat said...

I second the asking your landlord to install motion control lights. That should keep your doors nice and clean.

And oh my what a story for your friend and his son to pass on through the generations... "do you remember the time..." : )

It's so nice to hear about you and the twins settling in surrounded by people who love and support you. I know you miss John terribly but it's comforting for all of us internet friends to know that you're growing in yourself, loved and protected.

trish said...

I live in an area where my HOA complex gets tagged sometimes. It's a weird juxtaposition to feel safe but have these things happening around you. At least, it is for me. :)

PS I sent you an email...I hope it didn't go to spam!