Iffy neighborhoods…5 tells

Iffy neighborhoods are those that you dont feel comfortable taking strolls in or stepping out of your car and romping around. They are also referred to as bad neighborhoods or high crime areas. Every city, county, state or country usually has one such area.

Now you may ask how come someone like me — an Indian techie knows so much about iffy neighborhoods. The answers simple… My sense of direction sucks and I have an affinity to get lost on multiple occasions. Ive gotten lost in Cincinnati, New York, Philly, Chicago and Gary to name a few.

And after more than a decade in the US and tons of experience under my belt Id like to share what Ive learnt with others (esp. visitors, students from foreign countries, and men that dont believe in asking for directions). Here are 5 ways that have helped me identify bad neighborhoods:

  1. Wifebeaters

More than 3 men in wifebeaters is a good sign that you are in the wrong neck of the woods. Also, the wifebeaters have to be white in color and with ridges. Colored wifebeaters could be an indication that the person has good style while no ridges means that they are just plain and not making a statement. For those from India, wifebeaters are the same as banians or vests.

2. Folks hanging around

Ever wondered what are people doing on a weekday afternoon walking on the streets instead of going to work? Well nothing. These are not men or women that are taking the bus for a job interview or going to the local grocery store to buy a loaf of bread. These are folks that are looking for trouble. They are usually in groups of 4 or more and tend to not follow rules. They stare at everyone that drives by and walk like they own the streets.

3. Boarded or burnt windows/doors

What happens when you break windows or set things on fire? You have to fix em. And if you don’t care enough you just board them up to prevent intruders and leave the dark burnt areas as-is.

4. Spinners and rims

Poor looking hoods with beautifully waxed cars that are pimped with expensive chrome are signs to watch out for. Trust me there isnt a car show in town. Vehicles are used as a means to express power. And power comes in many forms: Black rides, Cadillacs, blasting music (usually hip hop or R&B — If someones blasting Britney or Kenny Chesney they are probably lost as well) and chrome — lots of it.

5. Other signs

Graffiti, trash lying around, slow moving cop cars scoping the area, lack of businesses or establishments that merit trust, lack of family friendly restaurants, lack of families with little kids are some reasons to question if you are in the right neighborhood.

If you do end up in an iffy neighborhood please don’t panic. Be calm and composed. Follow some simple rules: a) Make sure that you have at least 1/2 tank of gas/fuel. b) Dont venture into dark streets. c) Stop by a gas station for directions (if your Google maps isn’t working for some reason). d) Use common sense

And as long as you dont invite trouble or act stupid (like rolling your windows down and doing the head nod as if your part of the hood, or staring at folks that look different and getting the ‘Whatcha looking at’ comment) you'll live to see another day. ☺

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