Chapter 12

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Confluence Department: Over the last ten years or so, there have sprouted great numbers of guys with pickup trucks pulling trailers carrying lawnmowers and string trimmers and stuff. We saw this when I was young, in the case of providing services to affluent older people, but it was far from common.

Two trends combined to create this phenomenon: The first is the masculinity race, which causes men to grow beards and buy pickup trucks; as big as they can squeeze down the street. And the second is the increasing affluence and the laziness of the common people. In the Fifties, if you needed your lawn mowed, you mowed it. Now, even the single mom next door, in a neighborhood where the average house is worth about $45,000, has a service come and do her lawn. It would be beneath her dignity to do it herself.*

If a midcentury guy just didn't like to mow his lawn, he'd hire a kid on the block to do it. Now if you ask a kid if he wants a lawn-mowing job, the police are at your door demanding to know what you really wanted.

So anyway, now men who require masculinity prostheses can not only get and drive big trucks, they can deduct the expenses from their taxes and get low-cost commercial insurance for these, their personal vehicles. Which public gifts of course you and I pay for in our excessive tax and insurance payments.

It's a good deal all around. Except for you and me.


* There actually is a vein of culture in the African-American community that believes that picking up trash is beneath one's dignity, which goes some way in explaining why there's so much trash lying around in so many neighborhoods. It's almost a status symbol; these are all dignified people here, and the trash proves it.

I once was panhandled by a Negro lady, well past her prime, and I dropped one of the coins. I picked it up and handed it to her, and she threw in into the brush. It had been on the ground.