Monday, December 3, 2012

#608: Where I live (Part 2)

Port Orchard, Washington, probably WAS a really nice place 2 live, 15 years ago. Now it has most of the problems of any major city, in a town of just under 12,000 people.
Local writer Debbie Macomber has sorta immortalized the place in her "Cedar Cove" series of best-selling romance novels, but I wonder how much of the Dark Side she sees. I should pick up 1 of her novels & find out.
I know what I see....
Located just south of Navy-city Bremerton & about 20 miles northwest of Tacoma, Port Orchard is a rapidly-growing town that's also the county seat 4 Kitsap County. Tho there R 12,000 people within the city limits, there's probly another 10,000 living in the south end of Kitsap who pour in2 PO 2 do their shopping & other business. There R only about 4 direct 2-lane roads in & out of town, & all of them connect 2 the freeway. As a result, the roads R jammed most daylight hours, with bumper-to-bumper traffic during Rush Hour.
& on Friday nights starting about 4 pm, you can pretty much FORGET about getting around easily....
I live & work along Bethel Road, a nothing-fancy 2-lane that should've been widened years ago -- it's 1 of the main roads thru the south end of town.
Bethel's lined with stores like WalMart, Fred Meyer, Safeway, RiteAid, Walgreen's, & supposedly more R coming. There've been rumors about a Costco or Home Depot coming in 4 years. All the current residential property along Bethel has been re-zoned 4 commercial development, but the boom hasn't happened as fast as residents thot.
It took 5 years 2 get city & county clearance 2 "super-size" the WalMart a mile down the road, & the traffic was already murder B4 the larger store opened. 1 recent week, there were 3 injury-involved car wrecks at the major intersection where I work.
A few months back, a huge crash just up the hill from the gas station where I work left 1 of our Regulars using a cane to walk. He was in the hospital for weeks & almost died. The driver of the other car was drunk, & bounced off 1 car B4 he totaled R Regular's truck. The Regular said he couldn't avoid it -- there was nowhere 2 go.
I've been keeping him updated on car wrecks near the store ever since, & we agree something's gotta change. He thinks tougher DWI laws will help -- but they're already pretty tough. & expensive.
I sometimes rant at work about how I wish people would SLOW DOWN a little. There's no real good reason 4 all the rushing around I see each day & people might B happier or less frenzied if they'd slow down a step. 1 Regular over the weekend told me "That's just the way it is." A blog post I read a couple years ago announced that "Slow is the new fast." Well, not here. & Good Luck selling it.
I'm not sure why a suburb, a bedroom community with 12,000 people, thinks it's Seattle. Maybe Bcos that's supposedly where all the Good Times are...? Every weekend, the train of cars heading over the hill 2 the east, 2 the ferry going 2 Seattle, stretches on 4 MILES. A good number of people who live here apparently commute there every day. Even more drive the 7 miles north, winding around the bay 2 jobs in Bremerton. I've been told that commute is even worse each day than the backup traffic we've got in PO.
Meanwhile, housing prices here R way 2 high -- even in a depressed market -- but they keep building more. Who can afford those houses? Who's buying them? Where do they work?
The state taxes EVERYTHING -- everybody in Washington has their hand out. It's EXPENSIVE 2 live here, & Wash has the highest minimum-wage in the country. I wonder why everything's so expensive -- what DRIVES it?
The state's voters recently approved legalizing up to an ounce of marijuana in your possession 4 personal use -- the state thinks they can tax the SHIT out of it (at a 40-percent tax rate, even higher than the state's cigarette tax), regulate it, & make MILLIONS of $$$ in new tax revenue ... if the feds don't stomp on it 1st.
I don't partake myself, & don't really care much -- & if you move here you still won't B able 2 smoke pot in public. But some voters seem 2 think this new cash stream will magically reduce the state's 8+ percent sales tax & other taxes. Don't hold your breath. I've yet 2 see a tax the state won't drop without a fight.
Besides, with possession of pot becoming legal in a few days I'm sure there'll B more cops out on the road looking 4 stoned drivers. & 2 B honest, there R 2 many police here already. In 1 recent arrest in our parking lot, a belligerent driver provoked HALF A DOZEN police cars 2 respond in less than 2 minutes. They must have wanted the guy BAD. I've been here 10 years & I've never seen a police response like that 4 1 PERSON....
Meanwhile, what else R we getting with our tax $$$? "Everybody" seems 2 know where the bad drug neighborhoods R -- supposedly there R 2 within a few blocks of my house. If I take a "wrong" turn on my street, I'm told I'll be drifting in2 a druggie neighborhood & any cop following me will pull me over just 4 that. Luckily I haven't experienced this. Yet....
Meanwhile, these neighborhoods R left alone, even tho "everybody" knows where they R. The meth freaks who R most definitely here R left 2 plot their own ruin apparently without interference -- unless they cause a scene in public. & then, Good Luck. The meth problem appears WAY less than it was 7+ years ago -- back then I got some1 UP on something in2 the store EVERY nite. Now I'm suprised if it happens more than 1nce a week.
So what R the police, county deputies & state patrolmen in my neighborhood doing? Looking for drunk drivers & writing occasional speeding tickets, near as I can tell. In 9 years at my job, where I've had 2 make numerous emergency calls, I've learned that police & fire crews will respond 4 a car wreck -- tho it may take them a few minutes. & that's with a fire station a 2-minute drive down the street.
But until some1 points a gun at me or threatens me with a knife, I have NO FAITH that the police will respond 2 any other issues I report. I've been threatened B4 -- & it took the cops 1/2anhour 2 show up. By then the idiots were long gone....
So I'm pretty clear that I'm On My Own. I try 2 B Careful. So far, a friendly attitude, a little joking around, & some decent music on the store stereo has fended-off most Problems. But sometime, when I have an Off Night....
It's all just points on a curve anyway. The highschools here look EXACTLY like prisons ... which is maybe where The Folks In Charge think most of R kids R gonna end up. 1/2 the people I see every day carry Food Stamp cards, & they're almost always the folks with the fattest wallets & the newest cars. As a member of The Working Poor, that's a gravy train I wouldn't mind getting on -- as long as I don't have to do anything Illegal.
I don't know how things got like this -- upside down & unfair & brutal & fast-fast-fast. Maybe I'm just old & out of touch. But not much of it seems Good, or good for people. Which is why I end up running 2 this blog 4 refuge. Until I let the ugly stuff in....

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