Friday, December 23, 2005

Hari's today, gone tomorrow

Since I've been commuting by bicycle, I've seen two new restaurants open for business, watched the rehabilitation of a dilapidated house, and observed other houses become more dilapidated. Yet, I try to resist focusing too much attention on the residential and commercial structures I pass each day. Why? Because I have yet to encounter a building that was racing to beat me to the next traffic signal, stepping off the curb in front of me, or rolling straight toward me in the bicycle lane. There are plenty of motorists, pedestrians and wrong-way cyclists to perform those tasks, so I try to stay attentive to them.

One building I feel safe in inspecting closely is Hari's Food Store, a formidable contender for the title of Savannah's least attractive convenience store.
The reason I got into the habit of surveilling Hari's is this: It is source of successive waves of automobiles that flow into the roadway. The operators of these vehicles seldom show much regard for approaching cars and display absolutely none for approaching bicycles. I've found it pays to keep an eye on Hari's and prepare for evasive maneuvers, whether one is traveling down Habersham Street by bike, car, truck, sports ubiquity vehicle or M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank.

Last week, I noticed something different about Hari's. There weren't any cars were streaming out of the parking lot into my path. In fact, the store was locked and completely empty. While the lights were still on, the interior of the store was clearly devoid of shelving and merchandise.

One of my coworkers lives less than 200 yards from Hari's. I've heard him complain about Hari's for a reason different from my own: It is the source of successive waves of honey bun wrappers, empty beer bottles and losing scratch-off tickets that wash ashore in his front yard. I figured he'd be pleased that the place was locked up. When I asked him about it, he said he had no idea Hari's was closed.

Cars insulate us not just from the weather, but from the life of the neighborhoods through which we drive. To become aware of the subtle day-to-day changes in our communities, a different sort of vehicle is required. I'm lucky that I get to use such a vehicle almost every day.

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