Getting An Edge About The Hedge

, , , , | Friendly | November 6, 2017

(Back when I was a kid, we moved into a fairly nice neighborhood. There wasn’t an actual home owner’s association, but several of the neighbors liked to act like there was, and tried to tell the other residents to change things about their homes and lawns. My mom is not the kind of person to put up with that sort of thing.)

Lady: *knocks on our front door*

Mom: *opens the door* “Hello?”

Lady: “Hi! I just wanted to come by and see how you were doing. I noticed that your bushes were getting rowdy, and I was worried you’d gone and moved out on us.”

Mom: *glances at the bushes, which aren’t perfectly trimmed, but aren’t super scraggly* “Oh, well, they look fine to me.”

Lady: “Yes, well… we just want to make sure our neighborhood looks its best.”

Mom: “Yes… Well, goodbye.” *goes to shut the door*

Lady: *sticks her foot in the door and actually pushes it open* “Ah, ah, so you will be trimming those bushes, right? And maybe invest in an edger to tidy up your lawn?”

(Mom didn’t say a word, just pulled the door open all the way, then started to swing it closed, hard. The lady jumped back as the door slammed in her face, then stood making faces on the porch for a minute or so while we kids watched from the window. Eventually, she huffed off down the front path. Unfortunately, she and the others kept coming back. The door continued to be slammed in their faces.)

Don’t Talk Crap

, , , , , | Friendly | October 28, 2017

(I’m walking my dog and he stops to do his business. After he finishes, I pull out a bag to clean it up when I hear a bang behind me. I stop, bag in hand, and look back to see a man on the porch of the nearest house, glaring at me. I’m outside of his fenced-in yard, on the strip of grass maintained by the city.)

Man: “If I see even one bit of crap on my lawn, I’m tracking you down and shooting that dog dead.”

Me: *after standing up to my full 6’6” height* “Try it, and I’ll land you in the hospital.”

(He tripped over himself running back inside. I can understand not wanting to deal with dog crap, but A) it’s not your lawn, B) I’m cleaning it up already, and C) don’t make threats if you aren’t willing to pay for them.)

Refusing To Provide Closure

, , , , , | Working | October 17, 2017

(I have a job in which I am paired with a colleague and sent to various neighborhoods around town. If our assignments are close enough to the office, we walk. For a while, I am paired with a guy who is nice enough but has a few odd personality quirks. Sometimes, the only way for me to avoid getting mad at him is to play some harmless practical jokes. We are walking back to the office one evening after an assignment that went longer than expected. It is dark, and the street we are on is mostly deserted.)

Colleague: “I’m going to walk with my eyes closed!”

Me: “Why?”

Colleague: “Just for fun.”

(He mostly closes his eyes, but I can tell he is keeping one open just a tiny bit.)

Me: “Hey, watch out for that big rock!”

Colleague: “What? Where?”

(He opens his eyes and looks around, almost falling over while trying to avoid tripping over a rock that isn’t there.)

Colleague: “Hey! There’s no rock! You tricked me!”

Me: “Well, maybe you shouldn’t walk with your eyes closed, then.”

Colleague: “Hmph!”

(He closes his eyes again. I wait a minute or two.)

Me: “Oh, look! A dollar on the sidewalk!”

Colleague: “It’s mine!”

(He darts forward a few steps, searching the ground. When he realizes there is no dollar, he glares at me. I laughs.)

Colleague: “Jerk.”

Me: *laughing*

(And he closes his eyes again!)

Colleague: “I’m not going to let you trick me again. I don’t care what you say; I’m not falling for it.”

(I try warning him about another nonexistent rock, but it doesn’t work. He gets a smug look on his face. I get another idea.)

Me: “Good evening, ma’am. Lovely time for a walk, isn’t it?”

(My colleague opens his eyes and looks around, trying to figure out who I am talking to. There is nobody on the sidewalk except us, but until I burst out laughing, he is convinced that I am talking to someone.)

Colleague: “That’s it. I’m requesting a transfer.”

Breaking Bread Is Better Than Breaking Bonds

, , , , | Hopeless | July 20, 2017

In the late 90s, a couple from Iran moves in next door to my parents. They’re very friendly people, although a bit shy and the wife initially didn’t speak much English. While they both wear traditional Western clothes, they are practicing Muslims. Most of the neighborhood is white and at least nominally Christian, and none of the other neighbors are Middle Eastern or Muslim. But no one cares and the couple settles right in, and the other families in the neighborhood are happy to throw a baby shower for them when the wife is pregnant. She is so touched she cries happy tears, explaining that she felt so accepted and loved.

In the days following September 11, 2001, several of the neighbors were standing out on the sidewalk talking, trying to process the terror attacks. My dad notices that he hasn’t seen the next-door neighbors. He walks to their door and knocks. The husband answers. (The husband is about five-foot three and the wife even smaller. My dad is six-foot two; only one other man in the neighborhood is taller.) The neighbor looks a little nervous.

Dad greets the neighbor and explains that a bunch of people just felt like talking, and he and his wife were welcome to join if they want. The neighbor declines, and Dad reassures him that no one is mad at him or his wife or thought they are terrorist or sympathizers. He says, “If you don’t blame me for Timothy McVeigh, I won’t blame you for the terrorists.” The neighbor still stays home, but is relieved.

They’re still my parents’ next-door neighbors, and still very nice people. I have kids myself now, and the neighbors have given them carte blanche to pick any of the flowers in their front yard (and the flowers are incredible; the most gorgeous roses I’ve ever seen) and often give them Christmas presents. I’m going to visit my parents tomorrow, and since Ramadan is over, I have a loaf of (Halal-friendly) bread baking in the oven to bring the neighbors.

Ferreting Around For Some Good Parenting

, , , , | Hopeless | July 6, 2017

(I often take my very tame, very friendly female ferret out on her lead to get some fresh air. I mostly get a lot of strange looks but for some reason people with small children act like ferrets are awful, vicious creatures that carry all kinds of disease. On my walk one day a young woman is walking along with a little girl, about three years old. I brace myself for the worst.)

Girl: “Mummy! Mummy, what’s that animal?!”

Girl’s Mother: *laughing* “That’s a ferret, sweetie!”

Girl: “Awwww, so cute!”

(I pause for a moment a few steps away from them, mostly out of shock, and a little bit because I’m used to people wanting to skirt me and my ferret in the street.)

Girl: “Can I pat it, mummy? So cuuuuuute!”

Girl’s Mother: “Remember we don’t touch other people’s pets without asking; they might get scared, or they might not like kids.”

Me: *still slightly stunned* “This one does. She plays with my nephews all the time. She can pat her if she wants to.”

Girl’s Mother: “Oh, thank you!”

(The mother kneels down and keeps telling her daughter, “Now, gentle! Don’t scare her; nice and soft,” and stopping her daughter from touching my ferrets face. The little girl is over the moon and incredibly sweet and gentle, giggling like crazy as my loveable lump of a ferret sniffs her and revels in the attention.)

Girl’s Mother: “Thank you so much. She LOVES animals.”

Me: “It’s no problem at all. Most parents yank their kids away like my ferret might set them on fire.”

Girl’s Mother: *screws up face* “How stupid! Our guinea pig has probably bitten more people than this little guy.”

(After a quick chat I learned they’d just moved in up the street from me and they were walking to the park down the block. Almost every afternoon for the next several months we met up along the same patch of sidewalk and the little girl would pat my ferret, and the mum and I would chat for a bit. When my ferret finally passed away last month of old age, they met up with me the next day with a card and a box of chocolates, and an adorable drawing of my ferret done by my tiny toddler friend. All it took was one person realising my ferret was not a danger to her kid for me to gain two wonderful friends.)

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