The Abandoned Car Test

Although there are many unique neighborhoods in Duluth, the city is essentially divided into just three sections: West Duluth, Central Hillside and East Duluth. Perhaps the reason for this is that there are three high schools - Denfeld, Central and East - which cater to each section of the city. Whatever the reason, the fact remains that Duluthians are raised three different ways.

Below is a little role play situation to illustrate the differences from one section of the city to the next. I offer it as a public service to future Duluthians who are trying to determine which part of the city best suits them. Here we go:

Say you notice there is a strange car parked on the street you live. The car has a flat tire and a smashed windshield. A few days go by and the car doesn't move at all. How do you want your neighbors to react?

If you live in East Duluth, a few days wouldn't even go by before the car would be towed. The first person to notice it would call the police immediately and report the nuisance vehicle.

In the Central Hillside, everyone would ignore the car and it would sit undisturbed until winter, when the snowplows need to get through. Then, the city would have it towed. Although many people would notice the car for several months and recognize it as abandoned, it would never even become a subject of conversation.

In West Duluth, the car would go undisturbed for a few days, and then everyone would start talking about it. Theories of where it came from and what happened to its owner would abound. No one would call the police though. After a month or two, little kids would start playing inside the car until a few older kids would eventually come along and push it down a hill into a crick.

I was raised in West Duluth, but now I live in the Central Hillside. That car is not hypothetical; it's been outside my apartment all summer. It's really starting to bother me that my parents haven't stopped by to comment on it, and my brothers haven't stopped by to help me push it into a crick. It just goes to show that I'm living in the wrong part of town.

Paul Lundgren is a newspaper columnist and a very nice man. His e-mail address is paul[at]geekprom.com.