Sometimes it's hard to know how much of all this is normal--part and parcel of living in a country with a high crime rate and unemployment statistics at almost fifty percent. I haven't heard gunshots here, unlike the house I grew up in, which was in a much better area.
What really defines this as a bad neighbourhood for me are the people, especially the people next door to me. Living here is one part soap opera and one part horror movie.
It always start with fun: loud music, laughter and drinking. After a few hours the fighting starts. If the old woman isn't being accused of being a shameless, foul-mouthed hussy then her husband is accusing the middle-aged daughter of being a lazy, worthless whore. The middle-aged woman's husband cheats on her sometimes, and those fights often end with both her husband and step-father beating on her. It's crazy and scary, and at one point I was calling the cops out twice a week on average.
It also gets worse.
The drug addict son tried to set the house on fire last week. This is the latest and most life threatening of the list of crimes he's committed against his family, and I sincerely hope that they will not drop the charges this time. For the most part, my neighbours scare me in the same way that it'd be scary watching a bridge collapse, but that dude makes me worry.
The thing that I always find strange though is that these people seem to have no shame. They always greet you and want to chat, and I can't look them in the face without thinking about the things I've heard them doing to each other. I can't discuss the weather with a man who I know for a fact beats up a woman, even if she does antagonise him.
I can't make like I don't know things about them that I don't want to know. And I don't understand why it doesn't seem to bother these people that I hear their screaming almost-death matches.
It makes me wonder about the nature of people. Do they not care because they're so used to violence that they don't perceive a problem anymore? Or is it that they don't realise that I care?
Human beings beings have this terrifying tendency to look the other way. I've seen it too many times. Somebody gets robbed and we automatically put our blinkers on. Women and/or children show clear signs of abuse, but we make small talk with the people they obviously fear because its polite and nothing has been proven. I decided a long time ago that I wouldn't be like that. You can't always help people living in domestic terror, but you certainly can stop condoning it by acting like everything is great when you know better.
That's what I think at any rate. Drop me a comment if you have your own scary neighbour stories.