I ADMIT it: I cut through.
To get from Northeast Baltimore to Roland Avenue to my daughter's school, I drive through residential streets in Homeland and Roland Park. Anyone who has tried to negotiate Northern Parkway or Cold Spring Lane knows how sclerotic Baltimore's east-west arteries are. So people cut through.
This commuter traffic does not please residents of Homeland, to whom apparently, we motorists on our way to school and work are a crowd of bashi-bazouks galloping over the hill to plunder their houses and slaughter their cattle.
They want the city to stop us, with one-way streets, with signs discouraging passage and with other impediments. Perhaps, like the residents of Guilford, they will get the city to build barriers to block off whole streets.
It didn't initially occur to me that driving my daughter to school transformed me into a barbarian battering at the gate. I stay within the speed limit, stop at stop signs, dodge those people who jog in the street.
Though having given up expectations that the public schools would educate children or that the police would curb the drug trade, I still imagined that paying city property taxes and income taxes granted me some modest entitlement to drive on the public streets.
That was perhaps naive.
Some of the people who live in Homeland find criticism unfair; they bristle at descriptions of their attitudes as elitist. They see the expectation that the city turn their neighborhood into a quasi-gated community as modest and reasonable. Perhaps so. But when one group expects and claims privileges that other people don't have, what are we to call it?
I'm willing to offer reciprocation. If I can be allowed to take my daughter to school in the morning, Homelanders, Guilfordites and Roland Parkers are perfectly free to drive by my house. (They may want to wait for spring, since my street is one for which the city has subcontracted snow removal to God.) It may not get them to school or to work, but they will at least enjoy the modest thrill of slumming.
John McIntyre works on The Sun's copy desk and lives in Hamilton.
Pub Date: 1/18/99