When I first got to Arlington about two years ago....I asked if there were any areas or neighborhoods that I ought to avoid. The guy in the lobby....in his sixties.....just started laughing. Other than an occasional car-break-in....he couldn't think anything to get worried about.
Today, out of our local press.....there's this notice about a nifty seminar that was to be hold today in Arlington. The discussion topic? Arlington County Gangs: Exploring the Shadows of our Urban Mayberry.
I sat there....being an Andy-fan (and Barney-fan), and tried to envision this urban Mayberry feeling that they referred to. To be honest, Arlington is like a turbo-version of Mayberry. But gangs?
So, to attend this seminar....you had to cough up $40. This started me to laughing a bit. That's enough to take a gal out to a decent movie.....buy the two of you popcorn and a soda each. Or you could go and sip real fancy drinks over at the local Irish pub for three hours with someone....as long as you were sipping at a pretty slow rate. $40 just to attend a seminar on Arlington gang activity?
I eventually came to figure this out. Basically, you've got some guy who has watched Arlington for a decade or so.....claiming some lofty law enforcement status.....gathered a few statistics....maybe taken a couple of pictures of graffiti (there is so little of it to really notice anyway)....and packaged this up for law enforcement.
I'm guessing that the Arlington police department, the sheriff's office, and maybe the local DEA folks.....all went to their bosses and begged off the $40 cost each.....charging it to the local 'training fund', and just winked at everyone as you got the paperwork signed. How many attended? I have no idea....but I'd guess at least forty folks.
Gang activity along Reagan Airport? Or on the Pike? Or perhaps along the Cemetery area? Well....if there is any gang activity....it sure is quiet. Hustling hookers around? Well....no, we don't have any activity like that here. Drugs? There might be some.....but this is mostly a clean area that even your grandma could walk around at 10PM and feel fairly safe.
As for the urban Mayberry name? Well.....maybe we could put up some signs, and wink at folks....nudging them a bit and talking up barbershop gossip. Maybe we are still a decade behind some other places in America. But Maybe didn't have any Chinese restaurants, a surging population of foreigners, or 3,200 traffic lights to deal with. Also, Mayberry didn't have miles of subway, the Pentagon, or 116 pubs and bars. Mayberry was kinda simple.....and Arlington just doesn't match up to that description.