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65 Comments

  1. CR

    I’m inclined to agree with one caveat- they may lack income to do it but they may also (like me) lack the time.
    Unless you made repeated visits to the property is it really safe to assume that it is always going to look like that?
    The front of my property doesn’t at the moment look very well maintained but I live in a country where it is dark when I leave the house and dark when I get home for 6 months of the year so external maintenance tends to fall by the wayside.
    That being said we have new (horrible) renters upstairs who have made it their mission to cover everywhere with cigarette butts including my lawn 🙁

    • Mr. Groovy

      Fair point, CR. We shouldn’t be quick to judge. Deferred maintenance isn’t always a sign of cultural rot. But in this instance, I made the right call. The Google Street View of the shabby house was captured in 2012. That house is even shabbier today. And the homes across the street were in a sorry state as well. It just wasn’t the right stretch of rural North Carolina. Thanks for stopping by, CR. You added a very worthwhile perspective to this conversation.

      P.S. Sorry to hear about the crummy neighbors upstairs. I’ve been there before. Not fun.

  2. First off, keep fast food fast by staying out of the actual restaurant! Drive through only, my friend. You know what the food is, best not to know the conditions its being made in. 😉

    Second, yesterday my friend and I walked 2.5 miles from our hotel through the neighborhoods (and up and down 3 big hills) to Ocean Beach, CA. The homes on the way were so cute!! Small cottages and sprinkled with some larger homes but overall these 800k-million dollar 2 bedroom cottages were all kept up. As we got closer to the small city of OB the housing got worse. It was clear the homes had seen better days. The same cute cottages turned ugly with years of neglect. I don’t get it! The closer to the ocean the worst the homes are? I saw a sign in the yard of one of the nicer homes that said “Neighborhoods are for neighbors, not vacation rentals”. All I can guess is most of these homes have been taken over by rentals and Airbnb. It seems to have brought the value down in a prime area. Though where you are looking is a bit more rural than San Diego, it really does matter who your neighbors are. Property values have as much to do with location as it does with proximity to a pig pen.

    • Mr. Groovy

      The situation you described reminds me of my college days. We rented a house in the student “ghetto.” Probably 50 percent of the homes in this neighborhood were rented to students. And you could tell which ones were. The student-rented homes were a mess—beers cans and other evidence of debauchery littered the front porches and lawns, and signs of structural neglect were inescapable. What a shame. The homes in this neighborhood were craftsmen style homes and built before WWII. It could have been a wonderful neighborhood. But we ruined it. I really did feel sorry for the non-student people in the neighborhood. I knew why they didn’t talk to us much.

  3. Those that show pride of ownership will either move out of that neighborhood if given the opportunity or will avoid it like you’ve done. It’s tough to change that momentum once it has started moving in one direction.

    Birds of a feather …

    • Mr. Groovy

      So true, Ty. People aren’t masochists. If one is troubled by filth and boorishness, one will move away from filth and boorishness as soon as one has the means to do so.

  4. SC

    Dear Mr. & Mrs. G,

    In short, I do not see this as a Snob issue. I’ve known well off folks, and poor folks. I’ve seen good and bad in both. Those that had very little and CARED about what they had, and how they showed it, as well as those that seem to have it all, and didn’t care at all. My father used to work for some of these folks doing minor fixing up and cleaning. Sometimes he’d take me with him on these side jobs he did. I saw, with absolute disgust, the horrid conditions of these so-called well off folks. Their beautiful homes were a disgusting mess. I suppose I shouldn’t get so miffed at it, as it gave my father additional employment. But I just didn’t get how these people who could have so much could treat what they had so awfully. Likewise, for what I do for a living, I get to see a lot of people’s homes. Wealthy and not so wealth–I think I’ve almost seen it all. It is appalling to me to see how some folks just don’t give two craps where they are or how they live, and or, how they look to the rest of the world. Just because you aren’t that well off doesn’t mean you should leave the broken jar of crap all over the driveway. Just because you aren’t wealthy doesn’t mean that the interior of your home should look like some sort of gypsy trash cash. EVERYONE should have some pride, regardless of income, and take an account of how they live. Maybe a stint in the military might shake their minds up. If nothing else, they’d teach folks how to act, how to keep an orderly environment, and from all of this build themselves a bit of pride in doing whatever the hell it is they do in life.

    As for Part 2, I see this as it relates to the whole of society and where we stand when it comes to Child rearing. OK, you might say, what the hell am I talking about. Well, what I mean is this: Adults that teach their kids to properly act in this world know about responsibility, respect ( for themselves and others ) and how to, again, properly act in the world. Meaning, if you have a job, then do your job the best you can.

    For the most part, these fast food restaurants are stocked with younger folks (18 and up). The problem, to a large degree from my perspective, is that these younger people don’t really understand how to conduct themselves as employees. And nor do they really want to know. Unfortunately, and again from my perspective, it appears that they feel “they’re owed” something, that things that are “tough” or “menial” are not their responsibility and beneath them. If things were different, and a mess did crop up at an area in a store, you’d see a worker immediately act on it. He or she would fix it, clean it, stock it–whatever is necessary to have it nice for the next customer who drops by.

    Complimentary to this, and tragically, are the ABSOLUTE SLOB CUSTOMERS who come along and make matters worse. Many folks think that if it “ain’t mine” then I needn’t “give two craps about it.” Sad. I see this “tragedy of the commons” all the time. On one side we have those that just can’t seem to do their jobs, for one reason or another. On the other side we have those who think they can crap all over anything just because they paid their $4.75 for the value meal. Meh.

    From all this, I hope that I am different. I learned two things growing up. First, there is value in working hard and doing your job as best you can. Second, have respect for those around you and don’t leave your mess for others to wade through.

    Will this change? Who the hell knows. I hope so. All we need is more people from all walks of life to think about what they’re doing and have respect both for themselves AND others.

    Sorry for the rant. I’ve just seen so many messed up situations, and it’s all due to the lack of pride I described above. Frankly, I’m not this much of a curmudgeon. I just needed to vent.

    Yours,
    The Angry Tyrant

    • Mr. Groovy

      No worries, SC. We love rants here. And I feel your pain. More pride and less excuse making would improve most of what ails America.

  5. No, not a snob at all. We work to achieve our dreams and attain the life we want. Having neighbors that don’t maintain their property has a direct impact on your life. It is something that is completely out of your control. If that is being a snob, then I am officially a snob as well.

    As far as cleanliness at restaurants, it is one of my pet peeves. I much prefer a place where I can’t see whats going on. If I see it, I just can’t eat there. I am not a clean freak but isn’t a night out where you spend your money supposed to be a good experience ? If I am worried about contracting hepatitis it is not enjoyable. good post, thanks for sharing.

    -Brian

    • Mr. Groovy

      “If I am worried about contracting hepatitis it is not enjoyable.”

      LOL! That’s says it all, my friend. Now I know why I instinctively feel more comfortable in those restaurants where the kitchen is on display. I love the way your mind works, Brian. Thanks for stopping by.

  6. Jay

    Ok feel the same way about most fast food joints, however there is one chain that is always spotless no matter which one you go in. Chik-fil-a, way above the competition.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Agreed!!! The last Chick-fil-A I went into was spotless. And the staff was pleasant and presentable. So why hasn’t Chick-fil-A turned into my default fast-food joint? Talk about a failure to use my rational brain!

  7. I am SO late to this party, but I wanted to chime in. Every year, I have at least one student whose family is criticized for spending money on the “wrong” things. Usually, it’s something like really expensive basketball shoes. But what amazes me is that this same kiddo will actually wear old shoes to school, carry the new shoes in their box, and put them on before coming to class. It impresses me to no end to see people taking care of things they value and being proud of what they have. So I guess to go back to your point, I’m drawn to people who care for things (homes, yards, etc.) as well!

    • Mr. Groovy

      Wouldn’t it be great if a cultural norm developed where people were expected to 1) have fewer things, and 2) take care of those fewer things extremely well? Such a society would probably have a lot less friction and a lot more socializing. Maybe we wouldn’t be bowling alone anymore! Thanks for stopping by, Penny. I love hearing from late-chimers.

  8. Some of me seriously wonders about my cultural heritage (the southern part, not the Dutch part.)

    We don’t have scenic red barns, we have falling-down rusted out barns and trailers. More trash on the sides of the roads, and more trashed bathrooms. Junked cars in the yard, etc. Taking care of what you have rarely seems to be part of the culture, especially in the more rural areas without HOAs and neighborhood covenants.

    But I wonder if our southern cultural poverty is caused by the more stratified class system and lower economic mobility. If you can’t get out of the ditches no matter how hard you try (and there aren’t many opportunities in the rural south, particularly for people of color, due to poor education systems and lack of jobs) then why try? And for a long time (again, especially for people of color) being poor but proud was more likely to make a person a target.

    The general solution to wanting to better yourself in the rural south is that you gotta leave. That’s sad, but I think I understand why.

  9. We drove by what looked like a really decent house last week (potential rental property), but didn’t even go inside because the immediate neighbors had garbage in their yard – both scattered garbage and garbage bags (more than one neighbor, mind you). I don’t think it’s snobbery to desire a neighborhood that values cleanliness. No matter what the neighborhood economics are.

    Good luck in your search for a house! 🙂

    • Mr. Groovy

      Thanks, Amanda. My kingdom for fastidious neighbors! Is that asking too much from today’s America? Good luck in your search as well.

  10. There’s no sense in thinking twice about living next to that messy house. Have some pride people! And some respect for yourself.

    I can understand how discouraging that can be when trying to find a house. I’m sure it isn’t all rural North Carolinians, keep searching and you’ll find that perfect spot with good neighbors!

    • Mr. Groovy

      Totally agree with you, TGS. There is plenty of honor in rural North Carolina. In my area, which is east of Charlotte, I see very few untidy farms and homes. We just had some bad luck on our first day out with the realtor. I’m sure we’ll have better luck going forward. Thanks for stopping by, my friend. It’s always great hearing from you.

  11. I think there’s nothing wrong with wanting someone to have the same cleaniness standards that you have. Maybe I read it wrong but you want people to take pride in the things that they have and take pride in their job.

    If they took pride in their house and were a good steward it sounds like you’d move next to them in a heartbeat.

    Likewise if the owner of the fast food establishments ensured that there was cleaniness in their restaurants you’d be more likely to want to frequent them.

    Like you showed, you have things and take care of them and it doesn’t have to always deal with your income level 🙂

    • Mr. Groovy

      Exactly, MSM! You nailed it. I’m not an income snob, I’m a cleanliness/pride snob. I’ve had dirty jobs and poor pay throughout my employment career but that never stopped me from doing my crummy jobs well and conducting myself in a respectful manner. Being poor and being honorable need not be mutually exclusive. Perhaps our high school and colleges should start providing classes on Honor Studies!

  12. I think being snobbish is part of the human condition. We all look down on someone and there are people who think they are better than us. The better among us are aware of it and fight against the inclination as best we can with all the fight that we can muster. We don’t always succeed though.

    TL;DR We’re all snobbish sometimes. It is ok.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Thank you for understanding, Mrs. BITA. Snobbishness is definitely in man’s DNA. I know it’s in mine, and like you, I try to “fight against this inclination” as best I can.

  13. Regardless of anything else a neighbors yard and situation plays into the value of your own . Even if they are the best neighbor in the world their stuff can blow into your yard. When you go to sell the next person will give you less for yours for the same reasons. Ultimately this is why HoAs came into being (out of control in some areas or not) so it’s not snobby, it’s normal.

    • Mr. Groovy

      HOAs have a bad rap, but as you pointed out FTF, they came into existence for a reason. A couple of years ago, Mrs. G and I were considering some land in Montana–a twenty-acre parcel the realtor took us to had a magnificent view of the mountains and a river. It also had a magnificent view of a neighbor who turned his property into a makeshift junk yard. This potential neighbor also appeared to be living out of a tepee. When Mrs. G expressed concerns about tepee man, the realtor said, “That’s what happens when you don’t have an HOA.”

  14. I guess I fall into the snob bucket too. I would not knowingly want to purchase a home next to neighbors that didn’t keep their house or yard in order. Just because your fiscally poor, doesn’t mean you need to lack pride or act lazy.

    Any food and uncleanliness don’t mix in my book. Again I think it’s a pride, effort issue here. Sure it’s not the greatest job, but do your best not matter when you do. You never know who’s watching or who’s happy meal you’ll be serving.

    • Mr. Groovy

      “Just because your fiscally poor, doesn’t mean you need to lack pride or act lazy.”

      Thank you, Brian. This says it all. Perhaps I’m being too nostalgic, but when I was growing up it seemed that everyone was supposed to take pride in his or her appearance or work. You weren’t given a pass just because you were poor.

  15. When you’re dropping a lot of money on something like a house, it’s totally fine to be a snob. Even at 24, when I bought my house, I was critical of the places my realtor showed me. Do I want to leave next to a huge graveyard in an association with very little outside lighting? Um, no thanks.

    Being in a townhouse, some of my neighbors are renters and and it’s been a really frustrating experience. At least I know what to look for in my next house, right?

    • Mr. Groovy

      Hey, Kate. So true about townhouse living. At our age, downsizing to a townhouse or condo would appear to be the natural progression. But we’ve been there before, and Mrs. G refuses to share a wall with another household. She’s tired of the noise, the cigarette smoke, and the yentas.

  16. Oh man, we ran across this moving to LA. The Zillow pics would look nice, the street view looks okay, and then we get there and see our next door neighbor has a dirt yard with 8 pit bulls running around in it. We even ran into similar stuff in nice neighborhoods in Houston. It felt snobby to say, “No thanks, no need to see the house.”

    Like you, it invokes thoughts of chaos, drama, lots of drama, maybe a cops episode feature, and definitely no regard for neighbors when it comes to partying. 🙂

    Like others have said, I see it as a sign of how they tend to their affairs. The house I grew up in wasn’t great, and dad was a haorder, but at least that stuff stayed in the backyard and relegated to a shed and one other contained area. The rest of the yard stayed mowed, and nice looking because, well , it’s the only house we have, so you shold try and take care of it. 🙂

    I also echo the comments of others about if the “front of the house” in a restaurant looks that dirty, you should stop eating there because the kitchen will be worse… Lord, the kitchen…

    On that note, holy hell, that’s a lot of fast food restaurants you go to, lol.

    • Mr. Groovy

      LOL! It does seem like I frequent a lot of fast-food restaurants. But believe me, Mrs. G never allowed me to engage in this vice more than twice a month. And thank you for showing that my snobbish tendencies aren’t always unwarranted. I don’t know too many people who would be comfortable having 8 pit bulls for a neighbor.

  17. I lived in an area where there were very rich people from long time family money (i.e. trust fund babies) that were very culturally poor.

    Also, as far as cleanliness in public spaces, this is a huge beef of mine also, but it isn’t limited to fast food places. I live in a fairly upscale area and I can’t tell you how often I go to a nice coffee shop and someone leaves their crumbs and napkins behind. Have we lost all human decency that we can’t clean up after ourselves and simply wipe a table?

    • Mr. Groovy

      Thank you, PP. I too am appalled by the state of dining tables across the land. I was in Dunkin Donuts recently and only found one unoccupied table that wasn’t marred by crumbs and coffee drippage.

  18. I’ll take fiscal poverty over cultural poverty in a neighbor any day!

    Was part of a group that lost our entire investment in some BK’s in the Carolinas! I got nothing for you on the fast food industry there…

    • Mr. Groovy

      Agreed. Fiscal poverty is very synonymous with the young and is therefore temporary. Cultural poverty, however, can last for generations. Thanks for stopping by, Ian. And sorry about your BK debacle. It’s never fun when a business venture goes sour.

  19. It’s funny because I grew up as a kid in not-nice-looking houses like those. Just because the maintenance is behind doesn’t mean you’ll end up with a crappy neighbor. Sometimes the income just isn’t there to make much-needed repairs. Hell, my granny’s kitchen was made out of particleboard and wasn’t even painted, but she was a nice lady. 🙂 But I totally get the snobbery; you need to be picky if you’re making such a big move.

    As far as decent fast food, I’ve had good experience with Chik-fil-A, Raising Cane’s, and Culver’s. They’re meticulously clean, fast, and cheap.
    I’m a total snob myself, don’t get me wrong. But I’m trying to fight those urges because I’ve found my judgment is usually unfounded or unfair. Of course, if something looks genuinely unsafe or threatening, that’s one thing! But I’m trying to get over sticky counters. In many ways I don’t think the cultural/fiscal poor want to attract the rich because they fear gentrification.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Good point about maintenance, Mrs. PP. Sadly, there are times when deferred maintenance has nothing to do with character and everything to do with a lack of money. I’m sure many if not most Americans have faced this situation at some point in their lives. I certainly have. And great point about Chick-fil-A. Of all the fast-food restaurants in our area, Chick-fil-A is definitely the cleanest.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Oh, and great point about gentrification. If the rich or comfortable start moving into an area, the price of homes and rents will go up. This is a big problem in places such as Manhattan and San Francisco. Where do the poor in these cities live? Do they have to live far removed from their jobs?

      • You bring up a good point about gentrification. I used to live in a very wealthy area of California, a few hours north of LA… it was filled with movie stars, rock stars and trust fund babies. There was an effort to try implementing “low income” housing for people who were servers, pilots and even nurses, because the cost of living was so high. Many of the uber rich were fighting this, but how can you keep the fancy restaurants and have the privilege of commuting by airplane if there isn’t somewhere reasonable for the middle class to live?

        • Mr. Groovy

          So true. Something has to give. Either the rich will have to pay more for services in order to entice the commuting of far removed workers or the rich will have to allow the construction of low-income housing. If the rich fail to do either, their community will turn into a “peasant” desert, and they will have to do without the services of servers, maids, pilots, nurses, etc.

  20. “I don’t like pooping on fast-food workers and rural North Carolinians. ”

    Um….but I think you just did! LOL. Too funny, my wife and I have had this EXACT same discussion.

    One to add: Roadside Trash. Is it just me, or is it exploding? What’s going on, people!? Throw your trash away (not out your car window), Pick Up Your Yards, and Do Your Job (you lazy fast food heroin addict).

    Is it really that difficult? Great post! (And…looking forward to talking with you tonight!)

    • Mr. Groovy

      I know, I know. Don’t rub it in about me pooping on fast-food workers and rural North Carolinians. Not my finest moment. But I’m just at my wits’ end. And this was my ham-fisted way of railing against our cultural rot. And funny you should mention roadside trash. I’ll be adding a new feature to this blog that pertains to roadside trash. The plot thickens. Thanks for stopping by, my friend. Looking forward to our chat tonight as well.

  21. I have mixed emotions after reading your rant. Part of me wants to say/preach don’t judge, but the other part of me completely understands where you are coming from. My husband and I have definitely turned down houses that would have been perfect for us based on the condition of the surrounding homes. In all reality, it will play a role in the value of your home were you to re-sell it. As the sister of an addict, I am a little taken aback by the heroin addict statement, but not offended. I would just caution you not to use generalized statements about such a specific condition that unless you’ve been through yourself, is extremely difficult to navigate. I’m confident you didn’t mean any harm 🙂 However, I also agree that the state of fast food restaurants, and retail establishments in general has declined. Have you ever used a Wal-Mart bathroom? THAT is icky.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Thank you, Mrs. Daisy. My description of the young man as a “heroin addict” was indeed distasteful and unnecessary. I, of course, didn’t mean any harm. And I appreciate you stating that. But I did choose my words badly, and there’s no excuse for that. If it helps matters, I did go back and change the description. My goal here is to share my thoughts and ideas in a respectful manner. The last thing I want to do is take pot-shots at people who already have enough problems. Thanks again, Mrs. Daisy, for helping me see a serious flaw in my writing. I really appreciate it.

  22. It’s decency. When I see things like that, it’s just a reflection of what that person is on the inside. If they aren’t going to pick up after themselves, why should I give them my time if I want to be a person of dignity and execution?

    Anyway, I don’t think it’s snobbery, just you have different priorities. Thanks for sharing.

    • Mr. Groovy

      So true, Erik. It’s all about decency. I’m a character guy, not an income guy. I’d rather live in a humble home in a humble community because I want to use my money to travel the world. But all too often, cheap housing is synonymous with high crime and blight. Sigh.

  23. I don’t know if it’s snobbery. OK so here is how I see it. That COULD be a cute house, but whoever lives there just doesn’t care enough to pick up all that crap. It doesn’t matter what size or type of place you live. If I lived in a cardboard box, you best believe it would be the coziest and cleanest box you ever saw. It’s a matter of taking pride in what I do have and taking care of that. You could have a mansion and be a big slob with crap everywhere, or you could live in a small apartment but friends love coming over because it feels peaceful. Make sense? You are just someone who might take pride in where they live.

  24. I think there is a large distinction between cultural and fiscal poverty. It’s possible to have both, but it’s also possible to have just one. Like they actually make decent money, but still live culturally poor. There is a lot of fiscal poverty in Montana, but a lot less cultural poverty. Mr. Mt and I were joking how our “ghetto’s” are like moderate subdivisions other places. Our home is in a low income area but 80% of the homes are very well maintained and run by responsible working families.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Thank you, Ms. M! All I want is a “ghetto” without cultural poverty. In other words, I’d rather spend my money on travel and other experiences than on buying an expensive house in an expensive neighborhood in order to shield me from America’s cultural rot. Sigh. Montana is looking more and more appealing.

  25. To me, it all boils down to character. Maybe I’m a snob too, but taking care of your stuff and keeping it in good condition, whether it be your body, your yard or your restaurant, is usually an indication of good character. We saw people with horribly cared for yards (i.e. crap everywhere, etc.) in our snobby suburb before we moved out and occasionally there are people with horrible cared for yards in the country here. I would absolutely take the neighbor’s care of their property into consideration when shopping. Lack of character in some areas almost always means lack of character in other areas, as in one’s treatment of other people or respect of other people’s property. Obviously, there can be other factors, such as illnesses that inhibit one’s ability to care for their property, but generally it indicates a lack of character.

    Likewise, having worked in fast food restaurants, I would definitely stop going to one that shows clear indications of uncleanliness–for your own safety. Usually outward signs of uncleanliness mean much worse things are going on in the kitchen. 🙂

    • Mr. Groovy

      YES! It’s all about character. There’s no reason why the fiscally poor must also be culturally poor. Think of a 22-year-old grad student working on her MBA. Yes, she may be fiscally poor. But she has built up so much social and cognitive capital, the odds of her remaining fiscally poor are exceedingly remote. It really is simple. Take care of your cultural poverty and your fiscal poverty will eventually be vanquished. Thanks for stopping by, Laurie. And thanks (I think) for confirming my worst fears about the hidden side of the fast-food industry.

  26. Jeff D

    No, I don’t think you’re a snob. I feel some of the same things, but more on the health side. I know you’re a Mark Sisson fan so I always feel like a snob in the grocery store looking at everyone else’s cart. GO PUT THAT S%$T BACK. It’s hard not to judge, but being a MDA and FIRE guy its where my mind goes first. Sorry to rant on your rant, but as always spot on on your assessment.

    • Mr. Groovy

      LOL! No worries, my friend. Rants are always welcomed here. And great point about Mark Sisson and the grocery store purchases of the average American. It is hard not to judge, and not to scream, “GO PUT THAT S%$T BACK.” Thanks for stopping by, Jeff. Great contribution to our conversation as always.

  27. Troy

    I too must be a snob! I have encountered the same problem as we look to downsize our home. The smaller homes are in less than desirable neighborhoods so it is hard for us to make the move. To be clear, the neighborhoods are not less than desirable because of the income levels, race, religion etc but the lack of effort by the residents to keep their properties in good repair and reasonable tidiness.

    • Mr. Groovy

      I hear ya, my friend. Why is low income so synonymous with low class? Is there some law that says the poor can’t be clean, earnest, and well-behaved? When my great grandfather stepped off the boat from Italy, he was dirt poor. But he was culturally rich. So he worked his butt off and achieved the American dream for himself and his family. Mrs. G’s Jewish great grandparents did the same thing. But back then, unlike today, the elites didn’t tell the poor it was okay to be slovenly and self-destructive. Meh.