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December 02, 2006

Thanks, Ann Arbor

In this blog, I usually try to offer a positive view of Ann Arbor, partly to counter the rantings of other disaffected grad students, and partly because I genuinely do like it here. As an erstwhile Angelina, I love living in a town where I can walk anywhere worth going, where I recognize the other people I see on the street during my daily pedestrian commute, and where I actually talk to my neighbors.

Nevertheless, there are some drawbacks to small-town life, such as a police force with nothing better to do than chase down drivers who exceed the speed limit or pass on the right (though where the cops were that day I saw someone parked facing the wrong way in the no-stopping zone in front of the library -- only three blocks from the police station -- is beyhond me).

For a different take on Ann Arbor than the one posted below, here is a guest post from my dad, commenting on his recent visit to our fair town:

Dear City of Ann Arbor,

On Thanksgiving weekend, you cited me--and fined me $120--for passing the speed limit on Main Street as I was returning from a shopping trip at the _______ Mall (Macy's, in particular) to visit my daughter for breakfast. She's a grad student at the U of Michigan, I'm a father who has visited many times, and I'm also a father who has visited often enough to patronize Zingerman's, Macy's, __________, ______________, __________, and _______________ in downtown Ann Arbor as well as the Best Western motel, the Lamp Post Inn, , and most recently the Candlelight Inn. All told, I've probably spend in excess of $2000 on these visits at a conservative estimate, or $3000 on a liberal one. That's not counting Ohio turnpike tolls from the direction of Pennsylvania, dinners out in Ann Arbor, or gasoline fill-ups on any of these trips. I've contributed to the Ann Arbor economy in various ways since my daughter began attending UM in 2001, but certainly this doesn't entitle me to bend or break your speed laws. I am guilty of going 40 mph in a 35 mph zone. This was on the day after Thanksgiving, when shoppers and motorists are out in unprecedented force, unmanageable parking and mall attendance figures, and on this particular date (Nov. 24, 2006), an uncommon number of police cars ready to snag shoppers, visitors, and residents who happened to exceed limit by 5 mph. in their efforts to shop, see relatives and have a holiday.

Thanks, Ann Arbor! Your vigilance has made a visitor feel unwelcome, a shopper feel surveilled, and a father of a UM student feel like he might have argued harder for her to attend Princeton instead. But I do hear the countervailing argument. Suppose _everyone_ went 5 mph. over the speed limit--what then? Good golly. Baghdad would fall and the terrorists would win. Michigan would become a welfare state (support Affirmative Action? gosh!). Ohio would raise speeding tickets on Michigan drivers in revenge for the latest Ohio State game and so double the welfare rolls in Detroit. No end to the consequences. Henry Ford might roll over in his grave: "Hot damn, illegal aliens crossing the border again..."

Relax, Ann Arbor. I'm just from Pennsylvania.

All best wishes!
Jon Klancher
Professor of English
Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh, PA

Posted by eklanche at December 2, 2006 07:59 AM

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