Neighbours, snow, and shit

Over 22 inches of snow fell on Saturday. It’s beautiful but also managed to highlight some good and bad aspects of the neighbourhood attitudes. Here’s how it works:

You dig out the path in front of your house. That’s a minimum requirement. We are spectacularly lucky to have Tim next door who was nurtured on these laws and goes the extra distance in shoveling his neighbour’s pavements. He’s a good man and he’s our neighbour – that’s quite a good thing you know. Next, you need to get your car out. So you dig it out (which is hard work). The next step is that most people then claim their empty, dig-space by putting stuff like chairs in it when the car’s not there. Despite being anti-social, it’s something understandable. Shoveling snow is really hard work and when someone takes advantage of your work, it’s harsh.

But in reality it’s just like the other thing I hate dealing with: parking. Honestly, I couldn’t give a single type-7 shit about parking. But here, it’s an issue way above religion. When snow becomes involved tensions ride higher than ever.

M came home from somewhere or other today and found a parking spot. Obviously, it was a spot that someone had dug out (because all of them are) but evidently the digger was unhappy about his/her work being used by someone else (even a neighbour) and so attempted to “teach us a lesson” for parking in some available space by piling up a bunch of snow all over the front of the car. This upset M, quite a lot. One thing you have to know about her is that she generally doesn’t understand why people do shitty things, especially when they do it to someone who intended no malice in the first place. She finds it jarring in the deepest way and I can only admire her for it. However, as an opinionated arsehole, my attitude is that these people are wrong and don’t understand the stupidity of what they’re doing and so I don’t get upset; more irritated.
But seeing how upset M was, I got supremely irritated. This was probably related to the dire experiences from earlier in the evening: an aside:

As the result of a non-work related minor computer emergency, I left work late and had to lurch through some serious snowdrifts (did I mention that King of Prussia hates pedestrians?) and then across an icy, unlit road in the dark. When I got to the other side I jumped, to avoid oncoming traffic, to the top of the snow embankment. It was a matter of milliseconds before I remembered there were a load of spiky bushes underneath the white coating, and before managing to rationalise the current situation, I was stuck in a bush, totally covered in snow, totally unable to escape, and with a strong fear of missing the precious, hourly-scheduled bus. I eventually managed to hyperventilate and scratch myself free from the spiky, snowy, bush and plunge through the deep snow. A few small scars, frozen hands and a poor score on the dignitometer. It took me two hours to get home.

So, you will understand that by the time I did get home, the sight of my wife being upset, pissed off, and confused by someone’s lame, passive-aggressive protest got me riled. So I strapped on the cleats and stomped over to the neighbours’ to ask if they were responsible for this pathetic act of impotent protest. Being prejudiced, like most people, I tried “the usual suspects” first. They didn’t answer, or were out. So I tried the nice people who had bought the late “Da Mayor”‘s house. It took a while for an unfamiliar person to answer the door, but when he did it was obvious he knew why I was there. I’ll cut the rest of the disturbing dialog out, but these are the main points:

  • He said he did it. I asked why.
  • He explained and I said that rather than cover our car in snow for whatever reason he had, he should have come over and told us the nature of his beef.
  • He immediately shook my hand and we were friends. Then his missus opened the door and started explaining the reasons for their anger. She wasn’t very convincing.

I accused them both of “passive-agressive shit” and they both apologised. M came out of the house, still very upset, and started accusing them of doing what they did [she hadn’t heard the mellow agreements]. I was still uptight about the whole thing and continued to drop into rabid accusations of anti-social behaviour, but at the slightest sign of capitulation or consensus, leapt on it.

A short while later there was a knock at the door. M was still upset [not angry, upset – she rightly gets upset when people attack her for invalid reasons]. But I answered the door, and there was our aggrieved neighbour with a box of exceedingly good beer that he’d brought over as a gesture of neighbourlyness. I nearly started crying with happiness. I invited him in for some Carlo Rossi and we spent a very amusing hour talking joyful shit about all kinds of shit. It also turns out that he is a beer brewer! He was drunk, but also extremely nice and apologetic about the whole deal. And this was despite how abusive I’d been to them on their step. Essentially I think they agreed that it’s better to be friendly, or at least direct, with the neighbours rather than wage a war of attrition.

So, we’ve met some new neighbours and we got a crate of nice beer as a result. That’s not too bad.

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