The Slums of Boiling Springs

“Well this place is just garbage.

I like our realtor.  He says what’s on his mind.

“Look at that.  Water damage.  Look:  dry rot.  Up there, old ceiling fan.  Disgusting.  Who uses gold chrome anymore?  Always check underneath the sinks because — aha!  See?  Mildew.  Over here.  Vinyl siding peeling off.  Must’ve had their barbecue set up there.  Dog shit over there.  And there.  And there.  Looks like the dog liked to eat trees.  Big burn pile over there.  Maybe burned garbage.  Who knows.  Maybe burned the dog.”

It’s been almost seven full days of house hunting.  We have three realtors who have shown us every house listed from south Spartanburg to the finger lakes of the Carolina border to the farm fields-turned-subdivisions of Lyman, Greer, and Taylors.  If drivers earned air miles, then I-85 would send me to Tahiti next week, first class.

And we have seen some crap.  Some real crap.

We saw a house made entirely of doors.  You walk into the front door and there are two more doors to choose from.  Each of those doors in turn leads to yet more doors.  Are there any rooms in this house, or just corridors?  I’m still not sure.  It was like a sideshow attraction at the county fair.  Kept expecting an evil clown to jump at me.

We visited a house with an unfettered view of a lake.  For the price, we wondered what was wrong with it.  Here’s the catch:  wall-sized windows looks out to the lake, but they don’t open.  The resident stuck in the climate controlled gulag (with a view) of his own making.

We’d been looking forward to the Boiling Springs properties.  Boiling Springs, for the uninitiated, is the bedroom community of industrial middle managers from BMW, moderately successful business owners, and a surprising number of teachers and administrators.  Very ticky-tack pre-fab housing, but hey, there’s a community pool in every neighborhood!

What we saw, however, was Little Qatar.  A side of Boiling Springs that most of her BS residents don’t realize exists!  Housing that looks as if it were constructed overnight by Bangladeshi slave laborers.  Entire chunks of building left unfinished, yet the houses are somehow occupied.  Teeny tiny bedrooms in one part, enormous, inexplicable, impractical spaces in another part of the same house.  Appliances installed no further back than 2005, but looking like the Circuit City catalogue.  If they named suburban houses like they do beach houses, the names above the doors would’ve read “Good enough for gov’mint work” and “Probably not a fire trap.”  All of it crumbling away, no doubt one day soon doomed to sink into the scenic brown pond across the suburban street where everyone drives 60 mph in a residential zone.  So again, Little Qatar.

The good news is, we found one place that’s not only not awful, it’s actually pretty good.  Don’t want to say too much just yet because I’m superstitious about things, but very soon, we may join the ranks of Americans I’ve avoided joining for so long.  The white picket fenced, green lawned, rocking chair porched mortgage payers of the civilized world.



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