Thursday, August 07, 2003

Faux Gates

"It's a wonderful feel (sic) when you drive up to a community and it's gated,"[Ray] Neverovich said. "There's a sense of community."

This quote comes from an article about the new "gated" communities springing up in the Cincinnati area. Aside from Mr. Neverovich's garbled syntax (It's a wonderful feel?) and delightful Dostoevskian name, there is something troubling about the statement. Perhaps it's just me, but does anyone have a "wonderful feel[ing]" when they see a gate? And is this a community?

A gate, to my mind, only means that you want to keep something in or out. Gates on prisons, stockyards, etc., keep things in, often involuntarily. I hardly think "Wetherington" (no plebian "Bluebird Lane" for these folks) residents are constrained by their gates. No, the gates are there to keep YOU out. (Yes, you…you know who you are!) We can't very well have the hoi polloi just driving through Wetherington any time they like. Why, they might get ideas, like, "why can't I have a house like this?" and then remember that their job was just shipped off to Mexico, China, or India, very often by the same people who live here. It is really rather thoughtful of them to spare our feelings by not allowing us to amplify our already growing feeling of inadequacy.

Also, in the same spirit of community, they call the security guard (a decidedly militant term, conjuring up unpleasant visions of "Checkpoint Charlie) a "gate greeter." It's nice to know that when I pull up in my rusty '89 Dodge, that I will be greeted rather than merely told to hit the bricks. I wonder where they have the $8.75 an hour greeter park his rusty Dodge?

One of the more interesting subplots to this is the rise of "faux gates" communities. Yes, faux gates! It seems that those who aspire to live in gated enclaves, but can't afford the cost of road maintenance that private roads entail, put gates at the entrances of their subdivisions. This sort of aping of the haves by the only slightly have-nots is not only pathetic, but just begging for a satirical roasting. "Yeah, Harry, we really fooled those burglars with those fake gates."

If I might, I would like to make a modest proposal; perhaps we could all have gates on our communities? Think of the boost to our self-esteem. "I work at a dead end job and can't afford to send my children to college and my health insurance just lapsed, but we have gates just like the folks out in Wetherington."

At last, a low-cost effective way to curb the downward spiral of our urban neighborhoods.


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