While I am not a native of Baltimore, I have lived in the area for six years now, and I've never seen anything quite as accurate as the commentary written by Eileen Pollock ("Baltimore is no New York," Jan. 13).
I was born and raised in Boston, which is certainly not Manhattan but it's no small town either. I moved to Baltimore for my job and, at the time, was excited at the prospect of a new and "blossoming" (as one journalist put it) scene. It turned out that the only way I could have been prepared for Baltimore was if I had spent extensive time in Detroit first.
I live in what is considered to be one of the nicer parts of Baltimore, and even in that area I still am terrified at the thought of taking my dog outside for a quick walk after the sun goes down. As you can imagine, this becomes quite a challenge in the winter months. As Ms. Pollock mentioned, the traffic situation is nothing short of a disaster. Garage parking is a tremendous expense and even the nicest neighborhoods still rely on permit or street parking. If I happen to ever stay late at work, I can end up parking as far as three-quarters of a mile from my house. Then, not only do I worry about the walk home but I worry about leaving my car on the street.
In every city it would be foolish to leave anything in your car just in case anyone with a wandering eye walks by. However, in Baltimore, you don't need to give criminals a reason to smash your windows in. In the past two years, my car has been broken into three times. Different windows have been destroyed each time, and each time there was nothing stolen because there was nothing to take. I've heard stories about people leaving iPod headphones, GPS cords, phone chargers, anything in their cars and thieves breaking in. Not once did I have a single thing in my car, but each time I paid $300 to fix the glass, feeling more victimized with every cent.
Upon making the police reports, I was told every time that there's nothing the police can do. I asked for a patrol car to come make a report and not once out of those three times has any member of the Baltimore City Police Department shown up to my aid. It almost makes you wonder just how much distress a woman has to be in before the police in this city show her any attention. But the police are not the only culprits. More often these days my work hours resemble nurses hours and sometimes I will go in to work on weekdays during the hours kids should be in school I am faced with massive amounts of middle- and high-school-aged children. They are on the streets outside stores, in the parks where I run and sitting on the curbs of neighborhoods talking. They have their backpacks on, but that's really only for show. How do they get away with this? Where are the parents and teachers who are supposed to enforce attendance? Lazy, uneducated children will turn into lazy, uneducated adults, and at some point they will be the generation who runs this city. We can only hope they don't run it into the ground.
Baltimore is one of the biggest cities in a very wealthy state, but Maryland seems to have abandoned it. The "land of the free" has turned into the "land of the free to do whatever you want and get away with it." Anyone with the finances and good sense to do so has evacuated the city for the suburbs where they can be outside after dark without the fear of rape, burglary or assault. And it's hard to blame them. Out of sight, out of mind as the old adage goes. I have been actively trying to find a job outside of Baltimore since someone attempted to break into my house while I was in it last month. Maybe if the hit television series "The Wire" wasn't such a painfully accurate depiction of life in this city I wouldn't be so eager to leave.
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