Transition Negative

A while back the local newspaper ran a large info graphic of the city that mapped desirable and less desirable neighborhoods. The information was gathered partially from realtors, but among other things it factored in the age of the housing, the quality of the local schools, crime rates and access to amenities. I was incensed to see that my neighborhood was labeled "transition negative." In other words I live on a street in transition, and it ain't necessarily transitioning in the best direction.

That phrase--transition negative--seems applicable to so many things. In college I worked in a shop selling pipes and tobacco. It was a great old time tobacconist shop with big jars of tobacco on the counter, silk-lined trays of briar pipes and a walk-in humidor. The place was right out of the 19th century. Old guys used to come in just to hang out at the counter and talk. I met a retired pipe-smoking newspaper reporter who had worked in Chicago in the 1930s, interviewed Al Capone and been friends with Jesse Owens. I met guys who had been all over Europe in the Second World War. But talk about a business in transition negative. Who smokes a pipe these days? And I won't even get into majoring in English in college or doing my grad work in poetry. Ahem, as I said, who smokes a pipe any more?

The other day, too, we were in the mandatory diversity training session and our diversity coordinator asked how many of us had a special needs accommodation. No one raised a hand. Then he asked how many of us wore glasses or contact lenses. His point was that everybody eventually needs an accomodation or develops a special need. In other words, some day we all will be disabled, incontinent and feeble-minded. Turns out, life is transition negative.

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