(Note: I wrote this at 6am, but had to wait until 10 to post because of a storm. Gotta love satellite internet!)
Gary and I were talking the other day about our current animal problem. Buddy, a stray cat, has decided to live here. Yes, I tried ignoring him and NOT feeding him. That lasted a week and he was still here and getting very skinny. So, now he is fed daily and is fat and annoying! He whines, jumps on the screens (even tore one) and scares our housecat. He takes swipes at Gary every chance he gets and has scratched him three times now. The other day when I got a hammer from the shelf and took it across the patio he went crazy- jumped up and grabbed it and then hissed. Yes, I’d say he has been abused and is afraid of his own shadow. Now we just have to see if he can get over it and settle down, or we have to find another home for him.
We have lived in the country for fifteen years (two different houses) and have always had animal problems. We’ve had strays- cats, dogs, cows, even horses take up temporary residence. We’ve had critters raid the garbage and tear up the garden. We’ve had predators- coyotes, wild dogs- kill our cats. And little things like snakes, scorpions, spiders, and wasps manage to find their way into the house from time to time just to make life more exciting.
However, all it takes is a phone call to remind me that my animal problems are NOTHING compared to the people problems created by NEIGHBORS.
We had neighbors at our old house. My cousin lived across the road, and while his dogs drove me crazy, and I told him so, he was still family. If he did something really annoying I asked him to stop, and if I needed something I knew he would help me, and vice-versa. Our other neighbor was a wonderful friend and Christian lady I would trust with my life. I also, technically, have neighbors now- although they live about a quarter of a mile away. In an area this small and close-knit I’m not sure I could move anywhere without already knowing my neighbors or at least knowing someone who is related to them.
No, I’m talking this morning about city neighbors- those people who live next door that you don’t know, don’t understand, and probably don’t like. I lived in the city for twenty+ years and I know those neighbors! I don’t miss them one bit!
One of my children is having problems with those neighbors. Apparently semi-nakedness and lewd public displays of affection are “normal” in the neighbor’s family. So is cursing and yelling and name-calling. My mother used to call those people “white trash”, a term which incidentally originated in the 1820’s and means lacking social status. These days I refer to them as lacking any social graces! The big problem with city neighbors like those is that you can’t just talk to them. First of all, you might put yourself and your family in danger. Second, it is unlikely they will respond positively to any requests for a change in their behavior. And, unless their behavior is against the law, they may just escalate it in order to annoy you more!
The problem in city neighborhoods and suburbs is that it’s easy to get a false sense of camaraderie. After all, you are living in the same neighborhood, in houses that are about the same price, in an area where your kids all go to the same school. Easy to get the idea that you have common values. NOT. I’m a very friendly person and I like to assume people are good until they prove otherwise. However, in the city it is always advisable to be a little cautious. The elderly widower next door is just as likely to be a drug dealer or a registered sex offender as the guy across the street who drives a Lexus and goes to work in a suit. Remember what they always say when they finally capture the serial killer? “He seemed like such a nice guy, always smiling and helpful.”
I’m not saying you have to do a full background check on your city neighbors, but I’d be careful about inviting them over for a barbeque until you really get to know them. I can count on one hand the number of city neighbors I’ve had who were ever invited inside my home. I’ve had a lot of friendly front yard discussions and over-the-fence relationships, but I draw the line at offering someone carte blanche access to my home or family just because we share a street. Perhaps that isn’t a good attitude, but it has served me well. Here is short list of some of the less-than-wonderful neighbors we’ve had over the years:
1. Party girl- Her idea of fun was to invite fifty of her closest friends over to enjoy very loud music and pot smoking until the wee hours of the morning. I finally had to call the police one night when they really got out of control.
2. Absent parents- They left their children at home to wander the neighborhood and play with the other children all day. Unfortunately they figured out rather quickly that I was at home with my children and assumed that meant free food and babysitting!
3. Angry couple- They screamed at each other day and night, inside and outside of their apartment. The day we moved out he finally killed her. I was just thankful we were watching it on the news across town.
4. Wild child- My children all remember the four-year-old boy who shot up the neighborhood with his father’s pistol, ransacked our house, and disappeared for hours at a time.
5. Friendly guy- He had so many people in and out of his house at all hours of the day and night that you would think he was giving something away- or perhaps selling it.
6. Hot rod- We like cars, but this guy didn’t know what a muffler was and certainly didn’t care about anyone getting any sleep.
7. Drinking buddy- This guy always had a beer. He was willing to share, but no thanks. For some reason it never occurred to him that no one else was drinking in the front yard!
8. *&^%$- This woman had a mouth on her that would make a sailor blush, but she didn’t seem to care that my young children were playing in the yard. She yelled at her dog, her kids, her husband.
So, there you are- another reason why I love living in the country. My neighbors could be partying in their front yard naked, drinking a beer, and screaming obscenities and I wouldn’t know it!! LOL
‘Course I do have those binoculars I got for my birthday….