I’m Glad I don’t Live in the Burbs

My feeling about the burbs, and more so about the gated community, is that it’s where people like me go after they die if they’ve been very, very bad. The burbs are full of people who want to get away from all the problems of the city or escape the wildness of the country. They want everything to be nice. And square. And mowed.

Often when they get behind the gate they discover that their neighbors are not nice. And then they’re stuck. So they have to sue someone or call the cops. This is a pretty extreme case of calling in the authorities…

An 86-year-old man jailed for a week for not mowing high grass or cleaning trash from his yard has gotten help from prison staff hoping to keep him from going to the slammer again.

John Allen was sent to prison after being convicted of violating a Union Township law stating private property must be clear of junk, rubbish, garbage or unruly grass.

Union Township Police Chief Joseph Lombardo said Allen did not heed warnings to clean up his property, which neighbors complained was an eyesore. Allen also refused help from others in the neighborhood and from a group that assists the elderly, Lombardo said.

“I don’t want local people in my house,” Allen told the New Castle News when asked why he had turned down the help of friends and neighbors. “Ordinarily, I wouldn’t let you through the front door.”

I would have let the poor guy alone, I mean, how much longer would he have been a problem? But where the good neighbor policy failed, the prison guards knew what to do…

So, about a dozen corrections officers spent several days this week at the elderly man’s house. Working on their own time, they filled a garbage bin to the brim with old furniture and other household goods. They plan to get to the yard — including mowing the high grass — once the recent snow melts.

Allen, a World War II veteran who worked in the airline industry in California, praised the prison staff for treating him well when he was behind bars and for helping him stay out of more trouble.

So wishing all a Merry Christmas, and that’s my heartwarming story for this year.

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