I live in San Mateo County in California, Menlo Park to be exact. This week marks our first year here away from the beach in Pacifica. It’s an interesting area because from where I am sitting I can look across El Camino Real at the entrance to Atherton, one of the richest zip codes in the country. On my way back from voting in Redwood City today I noticed the sign that said “Atherton Town Limits – Population 7800.” Now I don’t know if that is an exact figure, but I thought it interesting. If you drive through Atherton’s tree-heavy lanes you are reminded that many many people are doing very very well. I do not begrudge them that, some of it is old money and some is new tech money. At the time of my driving back from the County Recorders office after electronically submitting my ballot choices it struck me that the town of Atherton’s population was small in comparison to Menlo Park’s 32,026 or Redwood City’s 76,815 population. These two cities border or surround this enclave.
Now what does this have to do with voting? I’m not sure. I do know they have a town council and I imagine that people run for council offices but I wonder what their platforms are? Paving of the roads? Better sewage system? These candidates were not on my ballot of course so I don’t know and there are few campaign signs in the town. I guess they have polling stations but I don’t know where.
Does Atherton represent a cross section of the U.S.? Hardly. It is 80% White; 1% African-American;0.1% Native American and so on down the line. It is very beautiful to drive through if you are not in a hurry. If you are in a hurry the Atherton Police will be on you like (insert your own comparison here). The speed limits are strictly enforced. There are no apartment houses nor strip malls in this tiny town. No gas stations or fast food restaurants. So on the high way the blue signs would have no pictures of hotels, gas, food, or lodging on them. The blue signs would have someone putting their finger to their nose and waving their hand and would just say “You’re on your own.” Only when you got to Marsh Road on 101 would you be able to fill-up. Then, of course, you would be in Menlo Park.
I don’t know why I am going on about Atherton. I know lots of folks who live there in huge houses with beautiful drives down immaculately kept driveways. I know they have troubles like the rest of us, restless teens, impossible mother-in-laws, what to have for dinner that is “different” and exciting. Maybe they hope everyone will be home for dinner so they can talk about their days. Maybe the discussion will center around the election tomorrow. Whatever the case, I was just wondering today, the day before the big vote as I was driving down El Camino should I take a right and drive through Atherton and marvel at the architecture again or turn left as I usually do? Long story short, I took a left down the street to my apartment with it’s balcony facing the second most expensive zip code in the U.S. of A. and I wish I could say it “made all the difference.”
and so it goes…