I pay a high price for living in an all-Black neighborhood. Walk through it, and you will find no Starbuck or Jamba Juice. A sit-down restaurant like the Olive Garden sounds like a winner, but not on the East Side of Cleveland.

I don’t have to reiterate the challenges of my getting high-speed internet or of my streaming options. They are daunting.

Still, I thought that getting a generator installed wouldn’t be problematic. All I needed do was whip out my AmEx card or write a check, and a company like Generac would uncrate one and plop it on a slab of concrete in my backyard.

So I picked up a glossy pamphlet about its generators from a suburban Costco. The literature included an 800 number to call. I did. 

A woman — she was oh-so polite — answered. She asked me a handful of questions, which I answered. Then she requested my ZIP code, and I gave it to her. A moment of silence flooded our conversation, and then the woman told me: “We don’t service that area.”


Now, I wasn’t asking to borrow money. Nor was I asking for a discount, even though I’d have certainly tried to haggle over the price. Look, a Generac generator for a two-story house runs $12,000, a nice down payment on a Tesla Model 3. I know the power outage in Texas last spring created a generator shortage, and it led homeowners there to buy any they could find.

I’d never call a generator a necessity. I’ve lived all these decades without one, and had my brother not stayed on the floor above me and split the bills, I doubt I’d be willing to pour so many dollars into one.

For $12,000, I can book two or three roundtrip flights abroad and have scratch left to ensure I’ll have a grand time.

But I do find it comforting to not have to fret in winters about whether I can stay warm during a Cleveland snowstorm. I’m too old to laze around bundled in blankets. I need heat, and I wouldn’t mind being able to use a generator in the summer to keep my air conditioner humming.

That doesn’t seem possible — at least not through a Costco vendor.  

I’ve come to understand the reality of “living Black.” I can complain about it, but what good would a complaint do? I can’t make a company service my community, which is redlined to the max.

I see my circumstance as another Black tax, and I never had to pay it when I owned a townhouse near Cleveland Clinic. Whenever a realtor tells you it’s “location, location, location,” he ain’t kiddin’, because he knows suburban Gates Mills gets served better than inner-city Glenville does.

Maybe I should have cussed the woman out, telling her in crass terms what kind of company she worked for. Yet the blame isn’t on her shoulders; it’s on companies like Costco that see neighborhoods like mine as inferior to others outside Cleveland.