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"Life in a Snobby City"

Have you ever seen someone raise his nose to the sun, only to have it burned? Isn't it just the greatest thing you've ever seen? Is snobbishness as common in your area as it is in mine?

I live in a suburb of Dallas, Richardson, in an area which is right on the border between Richardson and Plano (another suburb). Because of school and store placement and other factors, though, a good deal of the things I do every day happen in Plano. Now, Plano, according to an article in my school's newspaper, is the "All- American" city, since it has low crime rates, a fabulous school system, and is growing extremely quickly. It is also divided into two parts, the west side and the east side, the west being richer. The east isn't poor, mind you, consisting of a middle to upper-middle class population. The west has become notorious for being very snobbish, furnishing expensive cars and large wardrobes for their children. And of course, with money comes better athletes, but that's another story.

About a year ago, I was being paid to mow a man's lawn in west Plano. Before I had started, little had been done to the lawn since the man just bought the house and he was too busy to maintain the yard. The man had received an anonymous letter in his mailbox demanding that he take care of his lawn as it was so ugly. I had been working on the lawn a few times before this letter was sent so I was told about it. A little later, on one of the first times I was working on the man's lawn, a female neighbor came over and asked, "Are you taking care of this lawn now?" I said I was, and she had the gall to say, "Well, it's about time. This lawn is so ugly and unkept. It's embarassing living next to this lawn." What she said of course took me by surprise, since I figured she was probably the person who had put the anonymous letter in the man's mailbox. I didn't want to be rude and yell at the woman about how material she was being (common of west Plano citizens), so I just let it slide. But now that I think about it, I should have given her a thorough lecture. I had never seen something this disgusting before.

First of all, that letter was the most spineless attempt to get a point across that I've heard about. Whoever sent it should have the guts to tell the man in person, face to face, and actually try to use effective arguments besides, "This lawn is ugly and I don't want to live next to it." Are lawns really that important that you would obsess over them and get disgusted by them? I must admit, the woman who talked to me was courageously blunt (or just dim-witted). However, you don't say that sort of thing about your neighbor, especially if you don't even know him. The man I used to mow for is a very distinguished man at UTD and is one of the best chess players in the country. Where does someone like this find time to go out into his lawn and tend to it? He's accomplished a lot more than that woman has, that's for sure. Also, I sometimes wonder how the woman would feel if her neighbors were nosing into HER business all the time, making nit-picky comments about things around HER house. Caring this much about someone ELSE'S lawn smacks of materialism and craving for status. Even citizens of Plano admit, "The personality of Plano is categorized as pushy, unhappy people. They are said to be 'status-driven' and always compare themselves to each other to see who is better."

This pickiness and superficial attitude carried by a good portion of citizens in Plano is the reason Plano is a virtually "dead" community. Philip Weiss, in an article in "Esquire" said, "You don't see any familiar images of American suburbia: you don't see kids playing on their own or couples entertaining on their porches." What you have determines how successful you are, not how well you take care of your children or how much you contribute to the community in the way of volunteer programs. Sad, huh?

How do we get rid of this problem? Granted, not all people in Plano are this materialistic, but a large number are. The people who care more about the qualities in others must encourage the community to come together through neighborhood cookouts and things like that. Neighbors must get to know each other better. The only time we meet our neighbors is when the annual Neighborhood Crimewatch Outing is held, and the only reason most people go is so that we don't lose the program in our area. (a certain percentage of people must show or else the program dies) Again, sad.

On a larger scale, it is a habit of America to only come together in need, when we have a common problem. As soon as this need is taken care of, people go back to their old ways. Recently, a block of houses burnt down, ruining many families' lives and destroying their valuables. I watched the news report about this and one of the people summed everything up perfectly when he said, "I don't know any of my neighbors very well at all, but they came in to help pull things out as if they were close friends." We still have that generosity, but only when we are desperate for help. Unfortunately, snobbishness is in the way and is crippling our "community".

Oh yes, and beware -- that woman described earlier has a child. Hopefully, that child will grow up to be more generous, friendly, and caring than his/her mother.

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