I live in a college neighborhood. We share a parking lot with the building next door. There are probably nine or ten cars in that lot. Our lease says that snow removal is provided, but frequency is not specified, and the plow service isn’t the most customer friendly game in town. When it snows, maybe half of the tenants bother to shovel. It snowed again this weekend. I like snow, I do. But shoveling for three days straight can take all the fun out of a snow storm.
My stupid (I’m sorry, she IS. Quite. Stupid.) neighbor came over while we were shoveling this weekend and sniveled about her bushes. We were putting snow on them see, and they DIE off every year. And she’s talked to our landlord, and asked him to talk to the plow guy, and WHAT can she do to get us to stop ruining her bushes. This is the same hedge that she hacked to hell last year, and called it pruning. I’ve seen pruning. That was not it. This is also the same woman who had a bonfire in her backyard last year. Her yard is about 15’x15’, and surrounded by trees and bushes. It is also closely bordered by other houses (including hers). A bonfire. See what I mean about stupid?
She went on to tell us that other people dumped snow there too, AND some college student parked her into her driveway causing her to miss an appointment the other day, AND she’s tried fences but the students just tear them down. There was a pause for breath here, and I must have had a look of some sort on my face because she whined “and I don’t WANT to move, I LIKE downtown”. It wasn’t a childish whine either – it was the grownup version that sets your teeth on edge. I wanted to charge her an hourly rate for therapy, but instead just said “Hmm” and stared at her with my best “go away please” eyes, adding an “I can’t control the other tenants” grimace.
We apologized. We offered to shovel the snow off of the bushes. She punctuated our conversation with “I’m just trying to work this out” and “it’s just… you know…”. And the whole conversation would start. All over again. I got the impression that she’d come over for a confrontation and was disappointed that we were so accommodating and apologetic.
It’s not just bad yard habits, whining, and her rude approach to problem solving that gets on my nerves. Her son fired his b.b. gun through the butchered hedge last year, almost hitting me. She heard us yell “hey, stop shooting!” and made him come over to apologize. We talked with him about safety- the possibility that he could hit people or their cars, and the fact that we're not crazy about guns. She gave us a sucking-lemons face over that one - probably because it's a conversation she's never had w/ her kid. "I just let him shoot at pigeons, he understands that." she said. Okay, I'm not a FAN of pigeons, but have you heard of paper targets lady?! I’m sure their bonfire blackened lawn hides the bodies of multitudes of dead city birds. Eww. We did thank the kid for coming over to apologize, and acknowledged that it was a hard thing to do. He was squirmy and uncomfortable, and took off almost before we finished speaking. She made the lemon face again as he ran up the driveway and around the corner. We stared back. Somehow, she’d made us feel like we were in the wrong. There is nothing to say in situations like that. You just say Thank You even though you don’t mean it, and pray not to have to interact again.
I was remembering this last conversation as she finally walked away and left us to our work. If she was watching out her window again, she saw my mouth moving as I removed remaining snow to appropriate areas. Hopefully she thought I was singing shoveling songs to myself.