Thursday, March 26, 2009

Recession Times

Post bank and insurance company bail-out, I live in the Shadow Woods condo development located in Oakland, California, a place where pear trees sprouting white spring blossoms encircle a pool. Here's where I still try to hold on to the lower rungs of a middle class life style.

Several years ago I'd arrive home to pizza flyers and advertisements for house cleaning services hanging on my doorknob. But as more businesses go on the skids, the doorhangers disappear.

House association members who pass each other by in the parking lot don't stop as often to ask, "How are things going?" Everyone seems to know, a withdrawal into anxiety. But some things never change. Discount coupons are routinely stuffed into mailboxes.

A new restaurant located on MacArthur Avenue, which was recommended by the local neighborhood listserve always seems to be full, a place located next to an abandoned office building and across the street from a resale clothing store. Tables are gathered around a window looking out on the street. Single moms sit down at the counter to order plates of pasta for their kids.

This is a family-owned restaurant where part-owner Mom makes the round of tables asking if everything is “all right.” Her son picks up plates and brings them into the kitchen where a lone chef holds everything together. The neighborhood is turning away from the mall back to the community to eat comfort food.

Tomorrow the Oracle Arena fills up with the Oakland Police Department and members of the public mourning the recent shooting of four officers killed in the line of duty: Sgt. Mark Dunakin, 40; Sgt. Ervin Romans, 43; Sgt. Daniel Sakai, 35 and Officer John Hege, 41, who donated his heart, liver, and kidneys to members of the Oakland community and saved four people.

Approximately 18,000 people were expected to attend the memorial service; sources later reported that 22,000 filled the Oracle Arena with an overflow crowd that included members of the public and officers from throughout the country.

The DMV Office noted that record numbers of people have signed up to become organ donors.

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