As the moving van was getting loaded, our then-neighbors stopped us in the hallway and asked where we were moving. When we told them the neighborhood they were surprised. “Oh. You need to watch out there. There are a LOT of Mexican gangs around. Just be careful.”
Not really what you want to hear as you are getting in the car to drive over to your new home. And it shook me up.
Our new neighborhood is culturally very different from our old neighborhood. Our old neighborhood had large communities from Ireland, Italy and more recently, from the Middle East. Our new neighborhood has large Hispanic and Asian communities. But gangs? I wasn’t sure what to think about that.
We wondered if the “Mexican gangs” we needed to watch out for was similar to the “Italian Mafia” we needed to watch out for in the neighborhood we were leaving. And by similar I mean: was probably a problem at one time; if it’s a problem now, it’s pretty minor unless you are directly involved with mafia/gang members; and really won’t be something we need to worry too much about. We NEVER had a run in with the Italian Mafia.
When the super came by on our first day to see if we needed anything (apartment buildings in New York all have “supers”…short for “superintendent”…they are in charge of maintaining the building) and we asked what he thought about the neighborhood. He has four kids, says that neighborhood is safe and when we asked about the gangs, he said “oh. that was in the 90’s! it’s much different now!”
and so far, I think he’s right. This neighborhood is pretty quiet and tidy, with tree lined streets and lovely brownstones and lots of hardworking people.
but…it IS an adjustment. I’m not going to lie about that. :) I have a lot to learn about where to go to pick up deodorant, veggie bratwurst, and fla-vor-ice. What playgrounds to take the boys to that are not too crowded and have good shade. And where our new favorite take-out places will be! :)
And as far as gangs…I’m going to take my same precautions I’ve taken in every neighborhood I’ve ever lived in in this town. Avoid dark, sparsely populated areas at night (the more people around, the better!) and keep your stuff and kids close. And from what I’ve seen so far, those precautions are plenty.
As far as learning about take-out. Trail and error is working out deliciously!