On the concept of being ‘city broke’

There’s so much on the political front right now, I don’t know where to begin. We’re four days away from the Buffalo slaughter of innocents, and the signs are that this is not a random act as it is a militia driven precursor to America sliding down into chaos. this meme might be predictive of the chaos we will face:

In ‘murica, where gunning down unarmed people is a career move. Ask George Zimmerman

But as the days go by, I think I’ll be able to better process this.

I’m returning from yet another hour-plus morning of dealing with Alternate Side Parking. We’ve lived in this nabe for several decades now and it was never this hard to find a place to ‘store’ your car. And it calls to mind a favorite phrase from Grandpa. New York is increasingly populated by people who Grandpa would say weren’t city broke.

Backstory. This is before WWI. Grandpa grew up on a farm in Indiana with his German emigre parents. It wasn’t a life he wanted, and he spent his adult years working at a family jewelry store. As kids, we were constantly getting ‘goosed’ by Grandpa, and he would laugh when we jumped. But as we calmed down, he’d accuse us of not being ‘city broke’. As mom tried to explain, in the era before the Tin Lizzy, you’d have to make infrequent rides into town for supplies or to sell your produce. that was in a buggy pulled by a donkey or a plow horse. You’d also bring a dog or two to protect your wares while on your sojourn. BUT BEWARE. Farm animals were not used to crowds. In the parlance, the overly skittish donkey was ‘not city broke’. It wasn’t indifferent to crowds. Ditto the dogs. So there was a reason you wanted to have animals (or people) who were ‘city broke’. And to be invited on such a trip meant you needed to know about city folks and their behavior. Being City Broke was a big deal in the late 19th century in rural America.

With me? (as in, are you following my narrative?) the phrase transferred over to humans who were too used to rural life and outdoor urination. ‘Don’t bring Clem tomorrow–he ain’t city broke’. Well, hate to say it but NY has been a huge draw for millennials and recent arrivals because (though apartments are expensive and life is complicated), finding a job isn’t difficult. That wasn’t a universal thing before COVID, and so lots of people who really weren’t comfortable with city living came here. Arrivals from developing countries decided they wanted to have the car and the big city life, but weren’t ready for it.

Example: City broke people (mostly) don’t take up multiple parking places. They mostly don’t lean on their car horns as a right. Or maybe they do, because they grew up in a city where that wasn’t necessary.thirty years ago, traffic was a small fraction of what it is now, and parking was easier to find.

How many friends do you have who ain’t city broke? I like to think i’d pass the test, but my nabe is becoming increasingly difficult to live in because the expectations of recent arrivals are that it’s just like living in ‘Friends’ or ‘Seinfeld’.

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