First and foremost, I apologize for the lack of new content here. Adjusting to the new job has been tiring. I’ve also been getting back into editing and other old pursuits, so my time management has been, to say the very least, shit.
Now, that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s chat, shall we?
You heard correctly; I’ve been in a new job for the past six weeks, and I’ve been really enjoying it. I’m currently in logistics (kind of). To put it more accurately, I’m like Philip J. Fry with a college degree and no space ship, which is infinitely lamer than the other way around. Regardless, I get to drive a lot, and I soak up considerable amounts of vitamin E while getting lots of fresh air and exercise.
I’m sure I heard some of you just say, “ew,” and that’s fine. It’s not for everyone. Nor is sitting around in an office staring at a computer or teaching in a classroom or building houses. We all have our niches we
tolerate enjoy enough to do it for forty or more hours a week for decades. Different strokes for different folks.
Bottom line is this: I actually, mostly, enjoy it. My vehicle is state-of-the-art and a true joy to drive. The routes are fairly decent (except for the country routes, but that’s another can of worms in itself worthy of its own post). The people are friendly. And the architecture is…interesting.
Our company runs nearly two dozen routes each day, but each driver has been confined to a more general area of operation to help facilitate efficiency through locational familiarity. (Are those actual industry terms? I haven’t a clue, but they sound good, don’t they?)
My area is one that has been traditionally a country town. For most of my thirty-four years here, it has been exactly that. However, as is the case with many rural towns in proximity to larger metropolitan areas (I can think of at least five in my area alone), developers have noticed the desire for cheap, available land within decent proximity of the big city where people work, and they have taken full advantage.
Not a day passes when I think of two terms: “Little Boxes” and “McMansions”. Some of you may already know where I’m going with this. I’m talking about not merely subdivisions, but of subdivisions of cheaply made homes and even “mansions”. I say “mansions” with parentheses because they are an insult to proper mansions.
Developers refer to these as “custom homes”, though I can’t imagine the customization options are all that varied as they all look EXACTLY THE BLOODY SAME. That’s where “Little Boxes” comes in. Some of you may refer to the Showtime series Weeds, a dramedy that follows the antics of a suburban widow living and selling drugs in one of these such custom home communities. (If you haven’t seen it, the first three seasons are fantastic, while the rest are lesser, though still enjoyable. I’d suggest giving it a watch.) The theme song, “Little Boxes” by Malvina Reynolds, talks about this very thing:
“Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same,
There’s a pink one and a green one
And a blue one and a yellow one
And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.”
And it’s so true! You pull into one of these subdivisions, whose entrance is always marked with a pair of stoneworks straddling the street and the name of the subdivision, which is always something pleasant yet boring, carved into it, and you instantly know you’re entering somewhere devoid of soul or interest.
What defines them most is the continuity, and that’s not a compliment. Each house resembles the one next to it, which is, of course, by design. It’s precisely the point. I don’t know what the hell that point is or what it accomplishes, but that’s the way it is. Each of them has many of the same architectural features and building styles as its neighbor to the extent of tedium. Yes, we get it, you like brick arches with poorly fitted concrete keystones. Move on with it.
The majority of these subdivisions are average sized custom homes (basically anything under 3,000 square feet and at most a two-car garage), but there are many that are much larger homes, which Kate Wagner has wonderfully dubbed “McMansions.” They’re essentially custom homes on a much larger scale, attempting (poorly) to emulate older, properly designed and constructed mansions, but with terrible architecture and cheap materials. I cannot do justice to what an abomination to the landscape these homes are, so please, check out her website: https://mcmansionhell.com/. It is nothing short of glorious. I suggest beginning with the “McMansion 101” section for a proper education on why these fail so spectacularly.
But that’s what I do every day: I drive around, delivering to all of these custom homes, as I marvel at the extreme architectural monotony and wonder why the hell anyone would ever consider such a thing desirable.
Oh well. Not my circus or monkeys. It’s their world. I just deliver in it. Anyway, until next time, comrades. Be good to one another.
-The Retail Explorer