Anxiety Is Your Neighbor

, , , | | Friendly | July 1, 2019

(One of my neighbors is an older woman whose husband died suddenly a few years ago. She fell and was injured shortly afterward, so I volunteered to take care of her dog and do some other tasks around her house while she recovered. Since then, she usually invites me over for tea and a chat every so often. Last year, my father’s girlfriend brought us to the Big E — a fair with lots of different forms of entertainment, vendors, and really good food — and my neighbor called me over a few days after.)

Neighbor: “So, how was the fair?”

Me: “Oh, it was so fun! They had a huge petting zoo, and acrobats…” *talks about the various things we saw for a bit* “I had some really good clam chowder and frozen cheesecake there, and I also got this nice little pack of aromatherapy bottles for my aunt.”

Neighbor: “And what did you get me?”

(I think she’s joking at first, so I give a half-smile and a bit of a chuckle, but her face remains stony.)

Neighbor: “You didn’t even think of me, did you? You know, I treat you like a daughter and you don’t spare me a second thought.”

(She launched into a small diatribe about how selfish I was, while I sat there feeling very flustered, guilty, and uncomfortable. But part of me also felt like this wasn’t fair at all, because she knew I didn’t have much money of my own and that the aunt in question had been a big help when my mother passed away. Her death had also been very sudden, and since I was young at the time, it left me with a few issues, primarily low self-esteem and trouble standing up for myself. I bought my neighbor some tea around Christmastime to try and mend things, but she continued to throw in passive-aggressive comments every time I saw her, even as she asked me for help with things like setting up her new cell phone, and guilt-tripped me if I hesitated to agree. Eventually, I started seeing a therapist, who told me I shouldn’t have to put up with that, and has steadily been helping me become more assertive. I still see the neighbor occasionally — I can’t completely avoid her, since I live at the end of a dead-end street and have to walk by her house just about every day — but I’m at least getting better at turning down her requests without feeling like a terrible person. I also found out that the apparent cause of her change in mood was that my dad’s girlfriend is the niece of a friend she had a falling-out with; I guess she decided to take it out on me?)

Barking On Brand

, , , , , , | | Friendly | June 30, 2019

I live on a small residential road where the mailboxes are on houses and the mail carrier walks down the street to put the mail in each box. Out for a walk on a nice spring day, when a lot of people had their windows open, I saw the mail carrier going up to one of my neighbor’s houses.

This particular neighbor has a pair of lively Labradors who think every human they’ve ever met is their friend but announce this fact with very loud barking. As the mail carrier walked up to the house, I heard the dogs go off, and then over top of them my neighbor shouting, “IT’S JUST THE MAILMAN! WOULD YOU STOP BEING A DOGGIE STEREOTYPE?!”

You Gotta Be Kid-ding Me

, , , , , | | Friendly | June 28, 2019

(I’ve recently moved into a house that I am renting with a few other housemates. Most of the other houses in the area have families living in them, so it isn’t uncommon to have a bunch of kids running around the area. On this day, I am unloading some groceries from my car when a few kids run past. Suddenly, the kids dart in and grab the bags that I haven’t picked up and run off with them.)

Me: “Hey!”

(The kids run to one of the houses a few doors down, so I drop the bags I’ve already picked up back in the trunk, shut and lock it to prevent a repeat, and then run after them. They’ve already entered the house by the time I get there, so I pound on the door. A lady answers.)

Me: *with an attempt at a polite smile* “Hi. A couple of your kids grabbed some bags from my car while I was unloading, so I’m here to get those back. I think–”

Lady: *screeching* “How dare you?! You accusing my boys of stealing?! They wouldn’t do that! How dare you?!”

(I have zero tolerance for the type of people who resort straight to shouting, so I pull out my phone and punch in three numbers, before holding it up so she can see.)

Me: “I was willing to write it off as childish mischief. Do we need to treat it as actual theft?”

(The lady glares at me and looks like she’s about to slam the door in my face, so I take a step forward, putting my foot over the threshold. She actually growls, before stepping back and picking up the bags from where they’ve been dumped on a side table, just inside the door.)

Lady: “Fine, if you have to have them so bad.”

Me: *in the most disgusted tone I can muster* “They’re mine, b****.”

(I then stomped off, leaving her to gape after me at calling her what she is.)

Is That A New Pokemon?

, , , , , , | | Related | June 13, 2019

(Our little neighbor boy comes over for a visit, and we are watching a documentary.)

Narrator: “The kiwi has been caught and…”

Me: “Is that a pigeon?”

Nana: “No, it’s a kiwi.”

Me: “No, it’s a pigeon.”

Neighbor Boy: “What are they doing to it?”

Nana: “They’re putting a tracker on the kipigeon.”

There’s No Mending Fences Here

, , , , , , | | Friendly | June 10, 2019

(I have two dogs and an acre and a half — more than a football field — surrounding my house for them to play in. I thought about a physical fence to keep them in, but they stick to their boundaries without it, so I decide against it. One day, I am out playing with my dogs when a lab mix I’ve never seen before comes wandering in the yard. My dogs are, understandably, upset by this intruder and bark at it but never advance. I take them back inside immediately to decompress and watch the dog wander off. Not ten minutes later, there is a knock on my door. A man I don’t recognize is standing there with the mystery dog.)

Man: “You told your dogs to attack my dog!”

Me: “Um… hello?”

Man: *mocking* “‘Um, hello!’”

Me: “That’s your dog?”

Man: “Yes!”

Me: “Oh. Um, well, hello. I’m [My Name].” *extends my hand*

Man: *smacks my hand away* “I ought to call the cops on you. Vicious dogs and no fence!”

Me: “They barked. It’s what dogs do.”

Man: “They attacked my dog! He just wanted to play!”

Me: “And where were you?”

Man: “I got better things to do than watch my dog take a s*** and walk around.”

Me: “Sir, you’re aware there’s a hefty fine for not having your dog on a leash when it’s not on your property?”

Man: “He wanted to play with your dogs! What’s the big deal?”

Me: “My dogs were on my property and chased your unrestrained, stranger-dog away. And you were nowhere in sight. That’s the big deal.”

Man: “So?”

Me: “If you want your dog to play with mine, I have no problem with that. But I don’t know you and I don’t know your dog, so I’m certainly not going to let my dogs interact with him.”

Man: “I know a f****** pit-bull when I see one! They’ll get a bullet between their eyes for this!”

Me: *seeing red* “Leave.”

Man: *steps closer* “Yeah?”

(As if on cue, my dopey dogs finally got up from their naps to see who was at the door, saw the other dog, and barked at it again. The louder one pushed her way past me and got face-to-face with the lab mix. The man grabbed his dog by the collar and marched off. I decided it was time to put up a chain-link fence after all. I have seen him walking his dog past my fence a few times. I always smile and wave but he never acknowledges me. Such neighborly behavior! By the way, my two “pit-bulls” are English Mastiffs.)