Neighborly Help

My wife, my son and I all tend to be loners.  We are not anti-social.  We are merely un-social.  We are friendly with many people, but Friends with very few.  We have a relatively new neighbor.  She is a delightful, bubbly, divorced woman of about forty.  The RIM Corporation, which produces the Blackberry phone, and various other electronic devices, is headquartered locally.  She works for them in the marketing department.  I understand that she gets paid extra to help haul away part of the huge pile of hundred-dollar bills lying around.  She has two Blackberries, one a gratis unit, used for company business, and another, which she got at cost, for her personal use.

She rang our door-bell one evening, to apologise, and explain a strange little occurrence.  Her father is my age.  He could retire, but he is a professor, who still teaches a couple of courses at the University of Buffalo, New York – two hours away, in a different country.  He drives up to visit regularly, and we had met and spoken, and at least exchanged names.  He had called from Buffalo, earlier in the evening.  Quite computer-literate, he had looked up our phone number on-line.  He said that she should have some company, and wanted to know if they were still there and if she was all right.  The wife carried the cordless phone outside.  There was a pick-up truck in the driveway.  She went up to the door and rang the bell.  There was conversation from inside and the smiling daughter answered the door.  The wife assured him that everything was well, and asked if he wished to speak to her.  He declined, but asked that she tell the daughter to call him later.

The City of Kitchener is where the blue box recycling system was invented.  Now we also have green bins, for kitchen waste and large, heavy paper bags for yard waste.  I’m all for saving the planet but, it can be a pain in the organizational ability, at times.  Most blue boxes are about a bushel capacity, and stand a foot tall.  This woman is a busy, single person who probably doesn’t cook, just for herself, much.  I haven’t gone through her blue box, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it contained lots of pizza boxes, Chinese take-out containers, Michelina microwave-dinner boxes, etc.  Perhaps because of the excess of packaging, she got a double-tall blue box.  It’s the only one on the street.

She put it out a couple of weeks ago, and came home to find it missing.  The first one is free.  Buy any replacements at a hardware store.  She got another one.  Garbage day again, she was coming home from work and there, five houses up the street, is her box, still with her house number, in big bold black magic marker.  Somebody’s got a lot of nerve, but not a lot of brains.  She stopped the car and brought it home with her.  Now me, I might have thought about calling the police.  Having taken her stolen property back, she is now worried about??…What?, the guy’s going to come down and demand it back?

She was on the phone to her dad in Buffalo, talking about many things, including this little contre-temps.  She uses a VOIP-type computer system for long distance, but, in the middle of telling her dad about her worry about the thieving neighbour, the local provider cut out.  At that point her guests arrived and she just left calling Dad back, till later.  But he got worried and tried to call her back and, of course, got no answer and thought perhaps her silly worries might not be so silly.  All was well, that ended well, and we were more than happy to reassure a worried parent.  I am sure that she would do the same for us.  We exchanged land line and cell-phone numbers as well as email addresses to ensure that we can.

Last Friday evening, I took a slightly panicked call from her.  The singer, Jann Arden, was performing locally, and she had a chance to get three last-minute tickets to the show.  She bought and paid for them on-line, but when she went to print off the confirmations, with the bar-code necessary to get in, she hasn’t been printing enough stuff, and the ink in her printer was all dry.  Do we have a printer?  Yes!  Could she bring over the file on a thumb-drive, and print them out?  Of course!  She only needed three sheets printed, but brought a dozen with her.  The show starts at eight, and it’s six-thirty.  She still had to pick up her friends, drive to the venue, park, walk in and get seated.  Hurry!  Hurry!  Hurry!  I hope she had a great time.

We have had her over twice, in a year, for an informal supper.  She has a surfeit of friends, but I think that aside from the minimal social contact, she, the non-cook, appreciated a homemade meal.  We have done the same with some of my daughter’s friends, and ex-friends, and others who have impinged on our tiny social circle.  We have not pursued these people, to live in each others’ pockets, as friends, but we continue to be friendly with those who come near us from time to time.  Feel not sorry for us, for we are not complete hermits.  We love mankind – just at a distance.