Weeding Out The Bad Neighbors

, , | Friendly | June 19, 2017

(It is during summer and I am about nine years old. A few months prior, the city had decided to fix some nonexistent cracks in the sidewalks and make the residents pay about $500 each for it. Obviously, people complained, but the city informed them that the sidewalks were city property and that the residents had no right to decide whether the repairs were necessary. The residents tried to fight the cost being forced on them, but they lost. One of my neighbors is a bit of a grump who likes to turn tiny problems into huge issues. He also has a large garden, which he tends to obsessively. When I’m walking past his house on the way to a friend’s place, I see a tiny flower (clearly a weed) growing between the cracks of the sidewalk. I pick it and tuck it behind my ear before continuing on my way. My friend isn’t home, though, so I go back to my house. I find my mom and the grumpy neighbor arguing on the front porch.)

Neighbor: *pointing at me* “There! There it is! See? In her hair! That’s the flower she stole!”

Mom: “That little thing? The way you were going on, I thought you meant an expensive flower, like an orchid or something.”

Neighbor: “It doesn’t matter! She’s a dirty thief!”

Me: *thinking I’m about to get in a lot of trouble* “But it was just a weed! It was growing between the sidewalk cracks.”

Neighbor: “I don’t care where it was growing! You stole it from me.”

Mom: “What exactly is it that you want me to do? She can’t put the flower back.”

Neighbor: “I know she can’t put the flower back. Do you think I’m stupid? She destroyed it, and I want her punished! If you refuse to address this matter, I’ll have to involve the police.”

Mom: *pulling me behind her* “Go right ahead.”

Neighbor: *shocked* “What?”

Mom: *trying not to smirk* “As you well know after those repairs, the sidewalks are the property of the city, not you. The city has no laws forbidding children from picking flowers. Now, if that will be all, I think it’s time for you to leave.”

Neighbor: *sputtering* “But… but… she stole from me!”

Mom: “No, she clearly didn’t. But you’re on private property, and I’ve already asked to leave once. If you stay here, you’ll be trespassing, and I’ll have to involve the police.”

Neighbor: *leaves, looking like he just swallowed a lemon*

Me: *staring in shock at my mom, who’s normally very soft-spoken and non-confrontational*

Mom: “Never give in to people like that, honey. If you do, they’ll walk all over you forever.”

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