Thursday, July 31, 2008

Mr. Big Stuff, Who Do You Think You Are?

The older I get, the more acutely heightened is my sensitivity to the class differences in this country. And it's not simply because at present, I'm unemployed and squatting in my landlord-foreclosed apartment awaiting eviction, though technically I suppose that would cynically give me more impetus to want to stick it to "the man."

I consider it a blessing to still live in the middle-class neighborhood in which I grew up. I've moved around a bit into and out of the suburbs directly adjoining the Northwest Side of Chicago, but never in my life, except for college, have I lived outside a mile radius of where I presently live. That said, I am content and deeply steeped in my mostly blue-collar community and have no desire to ever rock that boat. For the most part, we're all just regular folks with regular lives, good moral makeups, generally friendly and polite and loyal to a fault.

When the suburb in which I used to live, Park Ridge, became increasingly more white collar and upper class, with the infiltration of McMansions, Mercedes, $700 baby strollers and residents dripping in snooty attitude on every block, I breathed a huge sigh of relief that I was once again living in Chicago proper, though my mom and my ex still live on the South side of Park Ridge, the veritable town "ghetto," if suburbs can have ghettos.

As much as I love hanging out at my boyfriend's downtown high rise, luxury apartment, with all it's perks and amazing view of the Chicago skyline, and it's comfy and awesome and is my little vacation oasis away from home, some of the overt disregard for others, disguised as the affluent's divine right, is not only unfathomably rude but also completely irritating.

This observation is routinely evident to me in the parking garage of my boyfriend's apartment building, which is both a residential and public paid lot. It has six levels, with an elevator on each. Next to most of the elevator entrances on each level is a row of clearly marked handicapped parking closest to the door. But more often than not, the handicapped spots are not occupied by cars bearing either a handicapped plate or a handicapped placard, either of which is required by state law in order to occupy a handicapped-reserved parking spot.

Who, then, occupies the rock star parking in this garage, if it's not a handicapped resident or visitor, you ask?

The rich. The really, really rich. The richer, the better. The more expensive the luxury vehicle, the greater the chance that it's parked in the handicapped spot next to the elevator on any of the six floors, and not just for a quick grocery-unloading or Neiman Marcus shopping-bag hauling of stuff upstairs and then moved to a proper, legal spot. No, if it's a Bentley, or a Ferrari, or a Maserati, or a Lexus or a pimped-out Hummer, it's chillazing there for days on end.

While I can't directly quote any of the fucktards whose cars are illegally in the handicapped spots, I imagine the one-sided conversation would go something like this: "I make a ton of money. I pay rent for a very expensive apartment in this building. I have a vehicle for which I paid $200,000 and I don't want anyone to scratch or nick it. Who cares if I'm parked in a handicapped spot? I have enough money to pay any tickets I might receive. I'm sickeningly rich, therefore I will do as I damn well please, little peasant girl. Try not to bump into our utter perfection on your way back to your hole in the wall. "

No, not all rich people are so callously inconsiderate, just how not all poor people are meek and considerate. This sort of stuff balances out for the most part; I just happen to encounter a surplus of douchebags. Welcome to my life.

While I could very easily take pictures of the culprit cars and hand them over to the Chicago Police, what good would that do? Mr. and Mrs. Gotrocks will just pay their way out of it, which is sad. Here's hoping The Gotrocks sleep cozily in their extremely fluffy bed while wheelchair-bound Mrs. Finkelstein lies in traction in a nearby hospital after having to schlep half a block from her car to your elevator.

Color me weird, but it would never occur to me to park my big ass Chrysler in the handicapped or visitor parking spaces in my church's lot, even if there's nary another soul there (Pun Alert!). I could. I totally could, particularly when I have, you know, my entire drum set to haul inside. Still, I wouldn't. But that's just me.

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