My neighbor said she likes to be called “Lucifer.” No joke.

The neighbor on the other side of Lucifer said that this apartment complex used to be completely occupied by “working girls” and that around that time, she shot a man who was threatening to hurt her in the laundry room. She looks like she is pushing 70 (which I no longer say is “old” because my parents are nearing 65, and I don’t want them to be old).

Anyhow, my neighbor who always has a smile and wears flowery muumuus told me to buy a gun.

Our neighbors are actually pretty friendly, and we’ve had relatively few problems since moving in here nearly a year ago. Sure, the fridge was broken when we moved in and needed to be “fixed” some 7 odd times. And yeah, sometimes water leaks through our ceiling in the bedroom right onto our faces while we’re sleeping – but only if it rains for days, and since we live in Tucson, Arizona, that’s basically never. The worst that happened was when our shower clogged up and was completely out of commission, especially after my husband used the dirty plunger (who cleans a plunger?) to try to unclog it. It took 2 full weeks to get it fixed. At one point, the maintenance person actually offered us $40 cash of his own money to go get a hotel room for the night. While we knew it was his fault that the shower wasn’t fixed sooner, there was no way we were taking a bribe. Plus, what kind of hotel room does he expect us to get for $40?? A place where the shower doesn’t work, that’s where.

The people that live here are an odd bunch to say the least. Many of the apartments are empty. The apartment beneath us has been empty since we moved in. The fridge sits in the middle of the living room and no one ever goes in there. I would say that only about 70% of the apartments are occupied – which according to our neighbor, is progress. Of the occupants, about 50% are senior citizens. Some of them have lived here for years and have beautiful flower pots sitting on their porches. Another 40% are younger individuals and families that are pretty obviously living in poverty – there aren’t many other reasons to live here. Almost everybody works. And the vast majority rely on public transportation, bikes, or semi-functional cars. The other 10% of us are the “what the hell are we doing here” young professionals and wandering hippies. In order to save a dollar and still live close to downtown, we jumped at the cheap rent in this complex that is right on the edge of scary.

My husband and I are definitely moving out as soon as our lease is up – maybe even sooner. But I’ve started asking myself: what is the difference between me and these other people? Do I have a right to separate the “young professionals” from the other hard working people who probably also don’t want to live here? And why is it inherently unsafe to live in an apartment complex that serves poor people? Is it because no one cares what happens here?

When my neighbor talked about being safe, she didn’t mention police. She talked about not going out at night, owning a gun, and having “notorious” family. The wild, wild west lives on in South Tucson.