Mr. Potato-Head Is A Little Empty

, , , , , | Friendly | April 24, 2019

During college, I lived next to an apartment full of guys. My roommates didn’t give two hoots about neighbors, but I got on well with them and hung out at their place fairly often, as sort of the token chick.

They were fairly excited to finally be on their own in an apartment, and one day they decided they were going to have a “cookout” — really more of a cook-in since it was campus housing and an actual grill would have given the housing office a heart attack, but it sounded like fun, and I offered to help out and make a dessert in exchange for free booze.

I went over fairly early to help set up. One of the guys came out of the kitchen with a look like a kicked puppy. I asked him what was wrong and he held up two things — a raw potato and a masher — and told me forlornly, “I can’t mash it.”

He was astonished by the news that you had to actually cook the potato first. I ended up helping with a lot more cooking than I’d intended that day… but I got first dibs on drinks for the rest of the night, so the boys were forgiven.

They Manipulate Grass Now, Too

, , , , , | Hopeless | April 18, 2019

I’m an adult living with my parents. My mom’s chiropractor lives across the street from us. One day at an appointment, she is telling him that she is rather sore. She has to do most of the chores around the house, including mowing the lawn, because both my dad and I are recovering from surgery.

A few days later, my dad steps outside to get the newspaper and finds the chiropractor mowing our lawn for us.

Will Help Y’Allah Out

, , , , , , | Friendly | March 23, 2019

(It has snowed several inches and the apartment parking lot is not plowed. I have gone out to help my wife free her car. Then, I see several of my neighbors, who are Muslim, trying to push and rev their car out of the lot. Another woman comes out to help, as well, and gets behind the wheel.)

Woman: “Okay, guys! Almost out! Hope to… whatever god you have… that this works!”

Sunday School Kindness Applies Seven Days A Week

, , , , , | Hopeless | March 12, 2019

One day, when I am little, my mom misplaces her keys to the house. This is pretty bad because she doesn’t realize this until we get there, and the taxi has already left. This is the age before cellphones, so we can’t call a locksmith, nor my dad, who is currently on the other side of the city with our only car.

There is no public transport nor open shops nearby, and since it’s getting dark, my mom is scared. It’s just her and her daughter on the streets at night.

She decides to go with her raised-Catholic instincts and carries me to a church. There’s no one there but the Sunday school teacher, who’s just finished tidying up, and her husband, who’s come to help her. My mom explains our situation to them and, as it turns out, they live a mere block away from us! They invite us to their house to use their phone, call my dad, and wait there until he arrives.

Everything turns out all right. I only vaguely remember this incident, but my mom still gets choked up thinking about the couple who helped her when she was a scared young mom in need of help.

Makes You Wish He’d Dig Himself A Hole And Fall In It

, , , , , | Friendly | February 28, 2019

(Living right next door to me is an obnoxious black man in his 30s; for the record, I’m white. For the most part, he’s just a name-calling windbag who curses like a kid who just learned all the bad words. However, he does have an ill-mannered pit bull to discourage people from standing up to him. And while he hates everyone, he seems to hate me the most. Why? Well… Case #1: The Hole. I am walking back home from the store, which takes me by his house. Mind you, he hasn’t been a resident for even 12 hours at this point, and I find a freshly-dug hole at the fence leading into my yard. I know nothing about his dog, but I do know that’s a bad place to dig a hole into my yard. Since I’m here, anyway, I decide to handle it now. Both of them decide to greet me at the door.)

Neighbor: “Yeah?”

Me: “Hey, neighbor, mind filling in that hole your dog dug?”

Neighbor: “He didn’t dig a hole. Your mutt did.”

Me: “Really? She dug a hole behind my shed, in a space too narrow for her, and did it by pushing the dirt onto your side of the fence?”

Neighbor: “My dog doesn’t dig holes.”

Me: “Well, since you have the dirt and the space, why don’t you fill it in?”

Neighbor: “Your dog dug it! You fill it!”

Me: *turns to leave* “I can’t. I’m not messing with that nest of spiders. If you’re not going to fill it in, I just hope they don’t hurt your dog.”

(For the record, while I hate bugs, and spiders are a “get the flamethrower” level for me, I don’t mind that nest. They kill the bugs that would kill my garden, none of us can get back there anyway, and barring an allergic reaction, there’s nothing dangerous to anything larger than a mouse. But why tell him that? He starts filling in the hole and starts scolding his dog when he re-digs the hole. I just wish he’d fill it in before he went to bed. But now I’m getting ahead of myself. Case #2: The Walk. While I work from home, my wife works in an actual office. She’s usually home around six, which is when our dog needs to go out. As such, I make it a habit to take our dog out front so she can greet her mother. Since our yard is fenced off, I let her run around off a leash while I sit on the stoop. In the time we wait, she usually greets every passerby by running up to the fence. Outside of scaring a few people when she runs up — and most of them relax when they realize she’s just excited — she’s well-behaved. This includes when strange dogs walk by, even the neighbor and his yapping pit bull. On this particular occasion, however, the neighbor and his pit bull pass by right as my wife gets home. As always, his dog decides he wants to bark and growl at anything in sight. The good news is the neighbor has his dog under control. The bad news is that the pit bull barking at my wife sets off our dog. She runs right up to the fence and starts barking right back at the pit bull. I am going to break it up, but then the neighbor decides to kick my fence to spook her away. Now, I’m more content to head towards the gate.)

Me: “Why not come on through and let your dog off the leash?”

(He starts laughing.)

Neighbor: “You want them to fight? You know this is a pit bull?”

Me: “Do you know she’s a wolfdog?” *not lying*

Neighbor: “Like, bred to fight wolves?”

Me: “Like bred with a wolf. She’s more than 60% wolf, has longer, sharper teeth than your American Pit Bull Terrier, and has a jaw strength of about twice your American Pit Bull Terrier.”

(I’m still not lying. And at this point the gate is fully unlatched and open.)

Me: “C’mon. Let’s let ’em go.”

(Right on cue, he starts tugging on that leash like a maniac as he’s walking away from my wife and fence.)

Neighbor: “[Dog]! [Dog]! C’mon!”

(Since then, he’s always walked his dog away from my yard, and I’ve overheard even harsher scolding when his dog tries to dig a hole into my yard. But most importantly, I proved once and for all my dog wouldn’t run out of the gate if I let her out in my yard while I bring in groceries. Case #3: The Bus. Among my neighbor’s sources of income is driving a party bus. For the unfamiliar, it’s basically a small nightclub on wheels that can hold about a dozen people. One night, at around one in the morning, he decides it is the perfect time to turn everything on at full blast so the whole street shakes. And he won’t stop. Once again, I go out to greet him.)

Me: “What the f*** are you doing?!”

Neighbor: “Testing the systems! Now f*** off!”

Me: “It’s one in the morning! People are trying to sleep! Turn it off!”

Neighbor: “F*** you, you racist!”

Me: “What?”

Neighbor: “I’ve gotten nothing but f****** trouble from you! I’ve been living here fifteen f****** years and you’re the only f****** person who’s bothered me in that time! F*** off!”

(For clarity, he’s been here about a month at this point. However, I decide to take his advice to heart and go back inside… and right to my phone.)

Me: “I’d like to report a disturbance. There’s a strange bus out on [Street] in front of [Neighbor’s Address] that’s blasting incredibly loud music. The driver refuses to move or turn it off. The plate number is [Plate].”

(From my window, I see the police arrive and administer a sobriety test. He fails it. He never explicitly says anything to me, but since the bus disappears not long after, I’m assuming he lost his license. Case #4: The Skunk. Remember how I mentioned the hole his dog digs is let unfilled until the following morning? While it’s too small for either of our dogs to go through, and the area behind the shed is too narrow for either of them, it’s just the right size for a skunk, which is also too big for the spiders to kill. We’ve always had one who likes to skulk around early on garbage day. Thanks to the prep work I had to do for a wolfdog and a decent neighbor, the worst it ever amounted to for us was a very cautious walk to the car. Now that I have a neighbor who is leaving a hole under my fence, it now means my garden is getting torn up. I remedy that fairly quickly with some leftover cement and fencing, but there is one anomaly. While the skunk used to only visit on trash day, it is now visiting nightly. It takes a different neighbor to explain that detail. The obnoxious neighbor has been hired as a line cook at a restaurant a few streets over. Due to the size of the location, this restaurant can’t have a dumpster, so every night one of the employees is given the job of driving their trash to the dump. Our obnoxious neighbor, when charged with this duty, had decided it makes more sense to drive it home, leave it on his lawn, and wait for garbage day. Armed with this knowledge, and remembering he wants me to f*** off, I take to the Internet. This search proves tricky, as many of my keywords lead to results for lessors and lessees rather than homeowners concerned about their neighbors. As such, I call about something else, instead.)

Me: “I’d like to report a case of illegal dumping. For the previous few nights, someone’s been throwing several bags of trash into the yard at [Neighbor’s Address]. I’m also worried about any health risk this may pose to the entire neighborhood.”

(The effect was more profound than I could have imagined. First of all, while they learned it wasn’t illegal dumping, they did learn it WAS a public health hazard. Second, the restaurant caught wind of the incident, as well. It turns out they had been paying the same dumping fee for so long, they gave their employees the money to cover it up front and trusted them to be honest. When the owners found out he’d effectively been stealing their money, he was immediately fired and sued for the dumping fees he pocketed. Third, I’m pretty sure he found out I’m the one who reported him. His demeanor towards me specifically got progressively worse after this event. It also suggests he lost that lawsuit. I don’t know what case #5 will be, but I’m not looking forward to it.)

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