We’re a scrappy town. We’ve survived numerous economic upheavals, a ruinous bout of urban renewal, even being burned down by the British army. Still, we keep at it — maybe because there’s nobility in struggle, maybe because the only alternative to struggling is to pack up and quit. Quitting is not Kingston.
That refusal to give up, to battle like Billy Costello did in the ring, is all over the city. It’s not easy living here sometimes. The taxes are high, the good jobs harder and harder to find, much less keep. When we work hard to make our properties look nice and our neighbor does not, it’s discouraging. When we see that our taxes are not spent with the same painstaking, agonizing caution that we have to take with our money, it’s discouraging. When we find out that maybe we will have to pay several hundred dollars a year more to, say, have our garbage picked up — and we know, that as sure as our credit card bill is in the mail that our taxes will not fall a corresponding amount — it’s discouraging. When we hear that due to what sure seems like braying idiocy or crass greed, we’re on the hook for thousands and thousands of dollars because somebody apparently wanted to make a few extra bucks on some copper pipes, apparently paying no heed to the fact that they were wrapped in asbestos, it’s discouraging, bordering on infuriating. Or if you’re one of the people who gets exposed to that asbestos because you needed to make some money but the guy paying you didn’t care enough to even give you a surgical mask as you exposed yourself, unknowingly, to dangerous toxins, it’s discouraging. Not to mention reminiscent of how people were treated on plantations or in the Soviet army during World War II. Or if you’re a business owner trying to make a go of it here in Struggle City and the street you’re on gets — without a peep in the way of advance notice — blocked off for two weeks for a project where you only see people actually working for three days so far, it’s discouraging.