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Encounters with friends & strangers

¡Que Embarazada!, Part 3

, , , , , , , | Friendly | September 13, 2021

Over the summer holidays, my class lost a member. [Classmate] is now a mother to an adorable little girl. The birth was in August, right before the school term started.

She spent a great deal of the last school year pregnant. And once she began to show, it exploded into a big scandal, and [Classmate] was expelled in May due to her pregnancy.

She eventually argued her rights to an education and reached a settlement with the school, where she was allowed to return and continue studying, but she was still relentlessly mocked by basically everyone for her pregnancy and motherhood — including, shamefully enough, my girlfriend and me. Both of us were her classmates, and we were rather nasty about our opinions on her pregnancy. We needled her relentlessly through most of September.

Six months or so later, in March, my girlfriend gave birth to our own adorable little girl. Turns up I knocked her up in June. That meant she was three months pregnant when we were mocking [Classmate]’s pregnancy.

The irony wasn’t lost on either of us. We learnt our lesson and promptly apologised to [Classmate]. She forgave us, thankfully, and our daughters are now playmates.

¡Que Embarazada!, Part 2
¡Que Embarazada!

Sounds Like He Wasn’t Ready To Play Ball

, , , , , | Friendly | September 12, 2021

I know when my neighbour has his grandchildren round because there is always a football in my garden. They are good kids, just playful boys around nine years old. I throw the ball back every time; it really isn’t an issue.

One day, I find a ball and throw it over. I notice a lot more noise than normal, screaming and shouting, which is odd because they are normally so quiet. I think nothing of it and go about the gardening.

The ball comes over the fence again. I throw it back. It immediately comes back over. I throw it back. The next thing I feel is the ball hitting me with some force, like someone has deliberately thrown it over the fence. I walk to the shallow bit of the fence.

Me: “Be careful, lads; that hit me.”

Boy #1: “Shut up!”

Me: “Hang on, who are you? You’re not one of [Neighbour]’s usual grandkids.”

Boy #2: “Sorry, it’s my cousin. We don’t hang around much.”

Boy #1: “Shut up, [Boy #2]! Give me my ball back, old man!”

Me: “Here. Just be more careful, please.”

I drop the ball over the fence, only for it to sail past my head, barely missing me.

Me: “Is this your ball, [Boy #2]?”

Boy #2: “No, it’s his.”

Me: “Great!”

I stab the ball with my shears.

Me: “Send your granddad round if you like. I would love to chat with him.”

[Neighbour] comes round, understandably angry, but he quickly understands why I did what I did. Turns out the other boy has always been a bit wild, but [Neighbour] didn’t think he was that bad. We talk it over and he promises to talk with him. I tell him I have several footballs and he can have one if he apologises.

I never get the apology, and the lad turns aggressive, so he gets picked up shortly after.

I peek over the fence.

Me: “Hey, [Boy #2].”

Boy #2: “Yes?”

Me: “These were my grandkids’ toys; they’ve grown out of them. Sorry for ruining your fun earlier.”

Boy #2: “Thanks! And I didn’t mind. He wasn’t letting me play with the ball, anyway. I’m glad he’s gone now.”

[Boy #2] came back several times for visits. I have to admit I was glad when the other boy didn’t show up again.

Egg On Your Face, Bikes In The Lake

, , , , , , , , | Friendly | September 11, 2021

A couple of teenage boys have been annoying the neighbourhood, mostly doing stupid kid stuff: knocking on doors and running, shouting and being stupid in the road, hanging around the shops making stupid comments to people, etc.

All the people who’ve complained have been labeled as entitled and dismissed. The police can’t do much to minors.

As time has gone on, it seems getting away with stupid stuff long enough has made these boys feel a bit braver and untouchable. Now there are reports of the kids egging houses, letting down car tyres, and chasing other kids on their bikes, threatening to run them over. Still, no complaints can get past the Entitled barrier.

One comment on social media has stood out. A pensioner is getting constant harassment. They ring her doorbell several times throughout the night, throw stones at her window, take her milk, anything to get a reaction. Still, the ignorant don’t care. They say, “That’s what we did as kids,” and, “Don’t you have real problems to deal with?”

Then, the pensioner comments one more time, tagging her sons, two burly men.

“My sons saw two bikes, two pairs of trainers, and some keys thrown into the lake. If anyone has a concern with this, my boys will be with me for the near future. You can find my house; it’s the one covered in egg.”

The boys must have learnt their lesson, as all antisocial behaviour stopped after that.

Teamwork Can Move Mountains… Or At Least Trees

, , , , , , | Friendly | September 10, 2021

One evening when I was young, the Seattle area was experiencing one of its windstorms, which can produce winds up to ninety miles an hour. My dad came home from work a bit later than usual. He explained that the road had been blocked by a tree felled by the wind. When he got to the downed tree, he was in a small line of traffic; people were honking their horns and he saw the same thing on the other side of the tree.

Dad is pragmatic. He turned on his hazard lights, shut off his engine, got out of the car, went to the driver of the stopped car in front of him, and explained a plan.

Dad: “There are at least a dozen cars blocked by this tree, meaning there are at least a dozen drivers. Surely we can lift the tree together and move it out of the way. Honking certainly isn’t going to move it, and it’s not on any power lines or anything dangerous.”

And he was right: there were enough drivers and passengers who were willing and able to pick up the tree and carry it to the side of the road. After a couple of minutes, traffic was able to pass the road as usual.

I still live in the greater Seattle area, and since getting my driver’s license, I have twice been in the same situation. Both times, I’ve done what my dad did, telling the other drivers, “A while back, this happened to my dad, and he had an idea…” And every time, we get the tree moved in a matter of minutes. Teamwork for the win!

One Person’s Trash Is Another Person’s Trick

, , , | Friendly | CREDIT: Internal_Use8954 | September 9, 2021

I moved to this neighborhood about a year and a half ago. I am too cheap to buy new for the most part, so I upcycle and refinish most of my furniture. I do this mostly in my garage, but any spraying I do in the front yard on the mulch.

Most of the neighbors have stopped at some point to welcome me or talk about my projects. A few asked if I take orders. I told them I do, and at a pretty low cost because I don’t do professional quality, but it would have to wait a little bit as I wanted to finish my personal projects first. [Neighbor] across the street asked at one point, and when I gave her my answer, she sort of sniffed and said, “Fine.” That was about a year ago.

A few months ago was the yearly large trash pickup where you can put almost anything on the curb and the city will take it to the dump for you. It’s a great time to pick up new pieces. [Neighbor] had a pile of actually trashed items out. But as I was working in the garage, I saw her lug a console/entry table to the curb. It looked beat up but not broken, and it was one of the pieces I was actually looking for.

I headed over to check it out. It was pretty beat up as I suspected, the finish was scratched to h***, and a pet had chewed one of the legs, but it was a solid piece

Me: “Can I have this?”

Neighbor: “Of course!”

I got my dolly and stashed it in my garage.

It sat in the garage for a few months, but last weekend, I stripped and sanded the piece down and fixed the damage.

Today, I got it out and painted it in the front yard. I’m pretty happy with how it’s going to turn out. Just as I was finishing putting away all the tools and paint, [Neighbor] came marching across the street. I thought she would just admire it, as people like seeing their old trash transformed.

Neighbor: “I’ve decided that I don’t want to give you this table, so I’m going to come get it when it’s done drying.”

Me: “No, you gave it to me, it’s mine, and I’ve put in a fair amount of time and money to refinish it.”

Neighbor: “But it’s miiinnnne! You stole it from me! And I want it back.”

Me:No. It’s now mine. If you want it back, it will be $150.”

Neighbor: “But it’s trash now; you ruined it. I thought you were going to refinish it.”

Me: “Then why do you want it back? And I like it like this; any other refinishing would have taken too long and cost too much.”

Neighbor: “Fine, if you want to keep it, I’ll take $200 for it so I can buy a new one.”

Me: “No, you said I could take it from your trash pile. I even asked you before taking it; it’s mine now.”

Neighbor: “I’ll just come take it while you sleep!”

I usually leave pieces in the yard overnight to dry.

Me: “Fine. I guess I’ll just take it inside now.”

I then grabbed the leg of the table and proceeded to drag it into the garage. [Neighbor] reached out to stop me but recoiled once she realized it was still wet. I pulled it in and waved at her with my now paint-covered hand as the door closed.

It was a bit petty, and my hand is covered in paint — spray paint so it doesn’t come off easily — and I’ll have to redo the leg, but it was worth the look on her face.

Thinking back, I think this might have been her plan all along: get me to take it refinish it and demand it back.