Monday, March 19, 2007

Please don't be my neighbor!

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.

10 comments:

Heather said...

I just added a new label titled "Bad Neighbors". I think you should go in and add this to the list! I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who lives near lunatics. We were starting to think maybe there was something wrong with us...

Kate said...

sooo many bad neighbors. so many. they pee behind my hedge. in FRONT of a lit living room window. i get to pound the window and yell things like "tuck it in and get outta my hedge!". they borrow our shovel from the porch, and only fess up when we see it in their hand (and these aren't neighbors we even know). they walk their dog to our lawn, and don't scoop afterwards. this happens most often when i'm home for lunch, and i stand at the head of the walkway like some angry mislocated gargoyle, glaring at them. they always smile - while their doggy is squatting, and then they crinkle their eyes, waggle their fingers at me and shrug, leaving the leavings on my lawn. is the insufferable horror for hire? i feel the need for an attack cat this spring.

so many. bad neighbors. MY momma raised me better.

Heather said...

We had two girls living upstairs from us once that could be six posts all by themselves. They tried to tell me that they weren't using our washer and dryer, when we were standing right next to it with their laundry in it. They started using the fire escape as their entrance for late night booty calls after we complained about guys running up and down and slamming their front door at three in the morning, but the fire escape went right by our bedroom window. They had a piece of plywood they were painting red for some reason, and they left it, wet and red, lying across the driveway after they decided to go inside and have a nap. After they were asked to move out, they smashed all the light bulbs on the porch and ripped up a bunch of stuff.

I'd love to give you the cat, but all he would do is yell at you and be stinky. He's a big, stinky, noisy, scardey-baby.

Kate said...

good neighbors share food they make, they make shoveling fun, and they pull their shades down to protect you from things you'd rather not see in this life or the next. good neighbors don't chase each other around with pieces of pipe, or ride motorcycles down the sidewalk. or leave their car parked in the middle of a driveway shared by eleven other people.

i wouldn't mind having something loud and stinky to wave at neighbors who have blatantly disqualified themselves from the mr. rogers award. if we gave him a white stripe would he resemble a skunk? i could be the lady w/ the tame skunk - that would be fun.

d. chedwick bryant said...

She is an idiot... Snow on bushes is a good thing--esp. in areas where little droughts occur. roots need more water than we think-- snow melts=water. she is an idiot to think snow will harm a bush. Lilacs do best in areas where they have loads of snow cover for a few mos. a pile of snow on a bush is a blanket of protection--keeps the ground from heaving (freeze/thaw/freeze)

Betty said...

I decided to check out your blog, since you were kind enough to comment on mine. Yours is very entertaining!

After reading your latest post, I appreciate my neighbors more- all they do is talk too much, and most of it's about Jesus. The man did hack away at my bushes once, but I threw such a tantrum that he now keeps his pruners to himself. But that woman living next to you sounds unbearable. I hope you get to move....

Hugs,
Betty

Bobbi said...

wow...and I thought the apartment of doom next door was bad. Although, you'd have to admit that attempted murder, a kidnapping, and a pychotic patient off his meds are pretty impressive for bad-neighborliness. I'll let Alex tell you those stories, if you haven't already heard them..several times.
Instead, I'll leave you with my favorite Alex quote of the week. "Grapes are like slugs with skin". Poor Alex. I don't know what he has against innocent fruit and vegetables.

Thanks for the good laughs!
Bobbi

Alex said...

ALEX SAYS....

Shoot the Pigeons. Shoot the Pigeons. SHOOT THE PIGEONS...

...and stop looking at your pooping dog neighbors from your bushes.

You've got your own hedge, AND a window right behind it.

You'd be amazed how a BB to the Butt will dissuade a dog from shitting on your lawn.

Kate said...

for readers who don't know... alex is not our immediate neighbor, and i bet you can see why we're thankful for that every day.

and thanks for the props on snow vs. bushes. we always called snow poor man's fertilizer. clearly hedges don't make for good neighbors in our area - oh for a good fence.

Alex said...

Oh, I know a good fence. You bring him a watch or a TV and he'll get you top dollar for...what?

Oh.

I'm sooo embarassed.