I Was In The Neighborhood

Neighborhood

I recently wrote about some neighbors from Hell, and some of you indicated that you had some first-hand experience.

In nearly 50 years of marriage, we’ve never had any really bad ones, merely ‘interesting’ ones, like the kids in the other half of our current semi-detached.  A girl, 8, and a boy, 6, who never ‘walk’ down stairs, they sound like they have a collection of bowling balls, which they pour down.  My son works all night, and ‘tries’ to sleep during the day.  These two rattle cups in our kitchen on the side away from them.

In a public housing complex, one neighbor was a single mother. She’d had a son, and then, 25 years later, a change-of-life daughter who she indulged.  The kid wanted a kitten, and was given one, but neither the 10-year-old, nor her pet was allowed in the house when Mom was not there.

Too poor/stupid to buy a harness or collar, the girl put a heavy cord around the kitten’s neck and tied it to a cedar bush while she was at school. One day the kitten was startled by something, and leapt up into the bush a couple of times.  My wife happened to look out our back window, to see it dangling from the cord.  She rushed out in time to save it, and spoke to the mother.  The kitten bit the girl, and she threw it down the basement stairs.  It survived that, but eventually ‘disappeared.’

She was given a pet rabbit. I’d forgotten about the no pets in the house rule.  I came home from work about 3PM one afternoon, to see a blue, plastic, recycling box inverted in the back yard, in the blazing sun.  An hour later, the kid showed up and removed an almost heat-stroked bunny from beneath.  I told her not to leave her pet in the sun.  “Well, it was shady there when I left.”  [The sun moves during the day, you little ****!]

Like daughter, like Mother. She came by her dumb honestly.  I came home one day to see the mother’s car with a coat hanger sticking out of the top of the driver’s window – oh-oh!  Sure enough, when I went inside, the wife told me that she’d locked her keys in the car.  The wife had explained the catch the lock with a coat hanger, but her fingers weren’t strong enough.

I went out and had it open in a couple of minutes, and took a bundle of keys that a building custodian would be proud of, to the door. I told her that she should have another set of keys for just this situation.  “Oh, I have a second set of keys.”  “Well, where are they?” “On the chain, with the others.”

The kid was a little pudgy, and her mother restricted her diet, possibly why she wasn’t allowed alone in the house. We always had a bag of hard candies in our glove compartment, to suck on, on long drives, to avoid the need to stop at Burger King for drinks.  This was when I first started regularly locking the car, when the candy disappeared for the second time.  I also installed a locking gas-cap, because some people in the complex had their gas-tanks siphoned, and others had water, pop, sugar and sand poured in.

In my Racism Hurts post, I wrote of a beige neighbor from Guyana, who was such an asshole that he qualified for the ‘Paki’ label. A problem to others, he was more entertaining, if irritating to us.

We rented a brand new house which a relative had purchased as an investment. A pair of young professionals had it built, but he got a great job offer in another city, even before they moved in.  We had to meet his wife there to get the keys.

She assured us that they had not lived in it, but her brother had, for a couple of months, while getting an apartment after a messy divorce. What few possessions he had left were locked in the garage, and would be gone by the weekend.  I grabbed the garage-door handle and lifted….and the door rolled up.  Of course, he had to surrender the key; it’s not locked.  I rolled the door down and said nothing.  It’s not my problem.

Our problem was the young couple who moved in on the other side. She was the airhead instigator. He was the ‘Yes dear.  Yes dear.’  A new house – we went almost a year without a paved driveway, clattering in over mud and gravel.  Finally, I helped the owner lay timbers as a frame, on their side.

A city by-law requiring that all structures, like fences and driveways, had to be 2 feet inside the property line had been rescinded. The legal maximum width for a single dwelling driveway was 17 feet.  We drove two cars, so he and I made it 18 feet wide, bringing the timbers to about 3 inches from the property line.

After it was filled and paved, I came home one day, and found three little bamboo sticks between the houses, the kind you tie flowers up to. Not very straight, the line between any two would miss the third by 2 or 3 inches, but Hmmm….

Sure enough, the next time he saw me outside, he told me that my driveway was on his property.  “No, it’s not.”  “Yes it is!  You’re going to have to tear it apart, and remove some of it.”  “It’s not on your property!  Why would you think it was?”  “Well, I measured.”  “Measured from where?”  “I measured from the house.”  That explains the gardening stakes.

I asked why he hadn’t measured from the survey marker. “Huh?”  I walked down to the sidewalk and pulled back the sod we’d cut to put the timbers in.  There, 3 inches on his side, was the large steel spike that the surveyor had pounded in at the property line.  “Uh – Okay.  Never mind.”

That winter, I began by pushing the snow on the outside of the driveway, into the drainage swale between the houses. One day, I came home to find my wife embroiled in an altercation.  Apparently (the female) one of them had figured that, in the spring, when the snow melted, instead of flowing downhill into the sewer, the melt-water would flow 3 feet uphill, over the edge of their foundation, and flood their basement.

There she was, on a snowy, December front porch, in a bathrobe and slippers, screaming, “You fat pig! You fat pig!” at my poor wife.  Not exactly the way to win an argument.  Still, from then on, I pushed the snow down a short driveway, and piled it on the City-owned Boulevard in front of their house till they couldn’t see over it, across the street, and there wasn’t a thing they could say about it.

They say that good fences make good neighbors, but even Trump couldn’t build a fence high enough to make this pair of morons good. 😯

Advertisements

Oh, Grow Up!

Rink

On an irregular basis, the local newspaper allows 500-word articles from members of the Youth Editorial Board. These are intelligent high school students.  I am often impressed with their knowledge of social problems, and their mature suggestions.

I was recently sadly disappointed by a female Catholic student’s rant, titled Complaint About Rink, Masks a Bigger Problem.  A family in this hilly little town had found a large enough flat spot to build a small rink in their front yard.  By-law Enforcement had become aware of it, and the City gave them two weeks to dismantle it.

I share her opinion that Canadian kids are overweight and out of shape, and need all the outdoor exercise they can get. The City has sufficient good reasons to specifically make this behavior illegal, and mentioned several of them in their media release.  To ensure compliance, a possible fine was stated.

Not one to let the facts get in the way of a good story, she went on to paint the family, not as lawbreakers, but as Phys-Ed heroes, and later, as downtrodden victims.

If she built a snowman on her lawn, would someone file a complaint about that too? If it were eight feet high and blocking sightlines at an intersection – Yes!

She felt that vanity(?) was triumphing over enjoyment.  All exercise and fun obtained in a back yard would be just as enjoyable – and less dangerous.

She felt it was unfair that they had to dismantle the illegal structure because just one person filed a complaint. It’s possible that the entire street narc-ed out these people, or that only one did, with the knowledge and support of many others. How dare the City threaten a fine?  It wouldn’t be imposed, if they just obeyed the directive.

The list of weasel-word excuses that she used to rationalize her denigration of the complainant was long and impressive. She listed: intimidation and oppression, lowering self-esteem, verbal and physical abuse, criticism can follow creativity, attack with negative words, victims, power and control, lonely perpetrator craving attention, jealousy, compensating for their own troubles, anger, unfair, bullying, and frustration.

The City’s main stated reason for not allowing this behavior centered around the 14 inch steel tent pegs used to anchor the frame boards. Things like this, driven into the ground, could damage telephone and cable lines, power cables, and water and sewer pipes.  These would not happen if the rink were situated in the back yard.

Not mentioned by the City, were things like wobbly figure skaters or body-checked little hockey players crashing into passing pedestrians and baby carriages, or even worse, onto driveways, as cars pull in or out. Hockey pucks or frozen rubber balls can break windows and dent cars and garage doors.  Kids chasing them into the street can easily be run over.

The midnight-shift worker who tries to sleep during the day would be none too pleased with a noisy crowd of kids beneath his front bedroom window. None of these things have anything to do with vanity or oppression, merely safety and good manners.

Just wait till she gets older, gets married and moves into her own little house in the suburbs, next to a neighbors-from-Hell family like the one she’s currently defending.  The people who casually violate City ordinances about front-yard rinks, do it so that their kids have fun, not so that neighbor kids get exercise.

These same people are the ones who own a dog which is tethered outside 24/7, to bark its head off, or a cat that they let run loose to shit in your carefully tended garden beneath your living room window. They think nothing of having an illegal campfire in their backyard, which fills your house with smoke, and forces you to close all your windows on otherwise lovely days.

They feel entitled to blast loud music from their stereo out through windows and French doors, all day and night, while they throw loud, drunken parties on their deck, or in the pool or hot-tub. Now who’s intimidating, oppressing or bullying?  Ah, the joys of living in the city, there’s one on every block.

When we moved in here, the 10-year old from across the street wanted to play one-on-one street hockey with his friend, using their driveway and ours as ‘goals.’ I told him clearly that I would not allow it.  I didn’t want our car, or the house, dinged and marked, or the work and expensive garden plants wasted and ruined.

We left to go shopping one day and came back to a hockey net blocking our driveway, and the two boys resting on the curb. He jumped up and moved the net – the first time. I repeated that it was ‘my’ driveway, and I didn’t want him playing here.

We had lunch and went back out. On returning the second time, there was the net, blocking our access again, and he was now too tired to get up and move the net.  My son got out of the car and threw it onto the boulevard.

Not five minutes later his mother came over to accuse the son of ‘putting a hole’ in it.  It’s a hockey net.  It’s all hole!  And I don’t care how much healthy exercise he’s getting, it doesn’t belong on my driveway.

I think our little ‘fitness and fun’ defender’s entire screed “masks a bigger problem.” She needs to grow up, and I think when she does, our rose-colored-glasses wearing, sheltered little Catholic, is in for some nasty surprises about urban reality.