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Things people say that mean “I’m from the suburbs”

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Nice and clean and empty.
Photo from pasa47 on flickr.

Every once in a while someone tells me they like a particular city because it’s “very clean.” When that happens, what I really hear that person saying is “I judge cities by suburban standards.”

Cities are inherently messy places, and the best ones, with the most vitality, are often the messiest. If a city is too clean then it’s just an office park.

Of course, vitality means messy in the sense of being busy, which is different than messy in the sense of being dirty. But how bad do litter and grime have to become before they overwhelm one’s enjoyment of a place? Worse than in most cities, I think. Litter stinks, but a newspaper on the floor doesn’t make me want to leave the Smithsonian.

So when someone talks a lot about the cleanliness of a city, it leads me to assume they don’t spend much time in cities. That’s OK, of course. Not everyone can, nor should, nor needs to. But this is a blog about cities, and how people perceive them matters.

And being the Judgy McJudgerson urban elitist I am, that’s not the only common phrase that elicits the same reaction. Here are some more:

  • “Where do you park?”
  • “Traffic must be awful.”
  • “Do you know about froyo?”
  • “Traffic circles are so annoying!”
  • “It’s a big city with a small town character.”
  • “I can’t believe there’s no Walmart there.”

Got any others?

PS: In defense of those who think their strip mall’s froyo shop is unique, I suspect suburbanites think my views on lawn care are dubious at best.

June 27th, 2013 | Permalink
Tags: in general



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