Driving to work last Thursday morning, I lost many precious minutes between dropping off my daughter at Colina Elementary and getting to the office because of a particular kind of traffic holdup.

I was stuck behind a smiling senior, tooling along Warner Road in his golf cart, in the fast lane, heading for a morning tee time at the country club.  

He was oblivious to the fact that he was slowing morning rush hour. Maybe he would have felt bad if he knew, maybe not.

But it was a real-world example of how I think Ahwatukee is changing. I’m worried our lovely community is becoming a place where retirees and families are having a tougher time working together than ever before.

And that’s bad news for all of us.

When I moved to Ahwatukee as a middle-schooler from Tempe, it seemed like families and retired folks worked better together; were more aware of each other’s needs. And it made for a magical marriage of demographics and shared purpose.

Working people left the suburb to earn a living, and the retirees held down the fort. They kept a watchful eye on neighborhood kids. They called out teenagers speeding through streets and watched over empty houses. Retirees were the careful conscience of the area.

Maybe it’s the divisive, angry political climate nationally. Maybe it’s the disappearing golf courses that are leaving retirees feeling hurt and left out. Maybe it’s a generation of working families worn down by years of recession and real estate busts, with prices for everything from child care to butter rising what seems like every day.

But no matter the cause, every resident of Ahwatukee can, and should, make more of an effort to be a better neighbor wherever and whenever we can.  

Rush hour traffic is a good place to start.

Of course, warm rounds of morning golf and long bike rides through our gorgeous desert are why so many retirees want to live in Ahwatukee, but clogging up busy streets during peak traffic hours isn’t terribly considerate.

Likewise for retired folks with all day to shop at Fry’s who choose instead to leisurely read labels and block grocery store aisles at 5:30 p.m. on a Wednesday, when working folks just need to quickly grab milk for the baby and something for dinner.

Families and younger people need to do their part, too. We need to keep an eye on our kids and make sure they’re not out causing trouble or drag racing up Knox Road.

And we need to be more aware of our older neighbors who might need a little support. We need to do a better job of holding doors, toting groceries and looking after Ahwatukee’s retirees.

Retirees and families working together is a huge part of Ahwatukee’s appeal; it always has been. We help each other, look out for each other, and in turn make our community a wonderful place.

Let’s remember that the next time we encounter each other at the post office or on the mountain trails. We can, and should, treat each other with just a little more respect. We all have to do our part.

As for me, I’m going to try and reach out to my retired neighbors and friends – and maybe, when the moment is right, ask them to wait to drive their golf carts up Warner after 9 a.m.  

-Ahwatukee resident Becky Bracken is an editor at Times Publications, publisher of the Ahwatukee Foothills News

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