Commentary on Alabama Law and Society

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Location: Birmingham, Alabama

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Rejoicing in Other's Troubles

I know you are not supposed to, but let me explain. I live in Birmingham, the actual city and not the so called 'over the mountain' suburbs. Living within the city proper means several things: You have no public schools to which you can send your kids; you drive on barely better than dirt roads; the grass in the parks gets mowed twice a year whether it needs it or not; the police pay no attention to your neighborhood, and; those responsible for these basic services are more interested in calling each other names than in providing them.

The burbs do not have these problems. They are run by (mostly) competent people and more than adequately provide for community needs. However, suburban commuters have to endure major traffic issues. The metro area is not that big, but it is divided by several mountains and there are only a few major thruways. Once you get into the sprawling burbs, the secondary roads are also bad because none of the bazillion subdivisions were coordinated in any way. They aren't connected, they all just dump their cars onto a secondary road that leads to a thruway. The result is that a five mile rush hour commute from the burbs into the city will normally take forty five minutes. Double that if it rains.

Now for my point. The one big advantage to living in the city is that you get to avoid the traffic. That's all we get, so I take a twisted pleasure in listening to the traffic reports and hearing about all those lucky suburbanites sitting in their cars on the interstate. Even better, today I read that you can now go to the DOT website and view live video of these highways. Now I get to actually see them stuck there, wasting their lives away. This makes me happy. That is probably wrong, but oh well.