La La How The Life Goes On

Would You Like To Be My Neighbor?

Posted on: February 6, 2011

The sweet Mr. Rogers asked that question in a positive, uplifting kind of way.  I’m asking it in the spirit of full-on bitchery, with a side order of despair.

Sometimes neighbors just, frankly, suck.  Not necessarily your next-door neighbors or your street neighbors, but your community as a whole.  For example, I have never been more disappointed in our neighborhood than this winter as I look around and see house after house with an unshoveled sidewalk.  These nice people have shoveled THEMSELVES out and fuck you to anyone else who might, you know, need the sidewalk.  Before I go ranting about my kid and her safety on the way to school  (because almost every one of the miscreants is either a senior or a no-kidder who’ll say, “who cares about your spawn anyway?”), I’ll just say two words: letter carrier.  I don’t know about you, but I totally love Rich, our mail man.  This man humps that stuff up and down our hill, be it 10 degrees or 100.  The man WORKS.  Physical labor, day in and day out, elements be damned.  And now I see him walking in the middle of the street dodging cars. Why? Because why would Bob and Alice shovel their sidewalk when they just need to shovel their own driveway to get to THEIR jobs? Or their senior center.  Whatever.

Either way, the entire phenomenon has set me off, because I see it not just as a rather rude thing to do, but as one more piece of evidence that our civil society is heading toward the shitter.  After all, why should I shovel my sidewalk when *I* don’t need it?  Because, fellow American, other people in your neighborhood DO need it.  Do I want to go check on Mrs. McDooley next door during a blackout?  Not really.  She’s a little off, and she smells like she’s smoked More cigarettes since the dawn of time.  Her home, hell even her front yard, off-gasses the odor of nicotine.  But you know what?  Over to her house we (and by “we” I mean the BabyDaddy of course) go to make sure she hasn’t broken anything in the darkness and to let her know she is not alone.  Fun?  Not particularly.  Are we eager to do it because we’re such nice people? Can’t honestly answer affirmatively.  But do we do it because that’s what neighbors do?  Yes.  So the notion that someone could absolutely shovel their sidewalk but just choose not to completely burns my butt.  Yes, I hear you telling me that not all senior citizens can shovel or that not all people can afford shovelers. Fair enough.  Our town has an app for that.  You just call them and show either financial or physical need, and they will shovel the sidewalk for you.  So, if you REALLY just can’t bring yourself to spend that extra 40 bucks or the extra hour doing it, you can always pick up the damn phone, unless that’s also too much to ask.  One serially-offending house on the corner near Bambina’s school earns the particular ire of parents because this lady absolutely could shovel her sidewalk (which, not insignificantly comprises almost a half block on two streets).  She clearly pays someone who shovel her driveway and path out.  Parents have offered to shovel for her.  No deal.  She just doesn’t think it’s a problem.  Until, god forbid, my kid is sideswiped by a car on her corner and I rain down a shitstorm of legal hurt on her for her total negligence—and her total lack of civility to her neighbors.

So I am in a lather about that when I go to Bambina’s school play, which is held in their “cafetorium,” and in which a mini-brawl breaks out between two grandmas and a dad.  Background: the custom at these shows is to put your coats on seats to save them.  It’s not generally a big deal because a) ALL the seats are not very good, so 2nd row vs. 10th row? Whatever. b) anyone whose kid is in the show has to bring the kid early, so we’re all there at the same time, and c) the show leads get the first two rows reserved for family.  I could add d) it’s an effing elementary school musical so let’s all just take a deep breath and realize that no one is curing cancer here.  But I might offend if I say that, so let’s move on.  These two ladies just moved the guy’s jackets and sat down. So he came running over to tell them that they may not realize that they are sitting in his seats; his daughter is in the show and he had saved these seats for him and his wife. These ladies get very angry, like, kind of ridiculously angry for a school play.  One said, “Well, you weren’t here.”  The other said, “The seats are ours now.”  The poor dad was incredulous, like, are you broads serious? You’re just going to move my jackets and declare these seats YOURS because…you are you and you want a seat?  So the son of one of these ladies comes over and gets into it with the dad, but you could tell he just wanted his mom and MIL to move and stop making a scene. But now he’s making a scene.  And again, the poor dad guy is trying to figure out in what parallel universe someone just comes along and moves your jackets and declares your seat theirs.  Finally the ladies moved, but it was such a disgraceful display by grownups in a school setting, being so petty and so nasty.  I mean, Baby Sister routinely flouts social convention and often takes things that are not hers.  News flash, grandmas: she’s TWO.  You all are there to presumably see your grandchildren on a very special night, so why–in the name of that special night and that special kid–are you behaving so selfishly?  Again, a little neighborliness goes a long way, but when it’s every man for himself–even at an amateur-hour (and I mean that in the nicest way, seriously) kids show–you know your community is going off the rails.

Unfortunately having kids often brings out the worst in people.  Oh yes, it’s all for the purpose of protecting your child’s interests or ensuring your child’s future. But it’s ugliness all the same.  I mean, at intermission, in line for a juice box for Bambina, one mom was pushing her son ahead of me, saying, “Go Henry, get up to the front. Get your snack.”  Oh you mean, Go Henry, cut all these nice people because obviously your snack is the most important of all these children’s.  Poor Henry can’t be blamed. He’s just being physically thrust forward by this crazy woman posing as a mother.

Which brings me to the Target bathroom.  Off the Joneses went to Target today since we were down to one diaper and one roll of TP on the entire Jones Estate.  Bambina (of course) has to use the potty, so we open the door and–hello–there is a ten, eleven year old boy in there.  Standing outside the stall next to the one we have to take.  Obviously his mom is in the stall, obviously he is mortified that he is there, and obviously she is so ridiculous that she doesn’t think her ten year old son can be left alone in a public location for 4 minutes while she pees lest he be abducted by a Target-lurking pedophile.  Please let me not make light of child abduction, friends. It is at the top of the list of my worst fears that wake me up in a cold sweat.  But I like to think that by the time Bambina is 10 or 11 that she’ll be capable of understanding and obeying, “Stand here. Don’t move. Don’t talk to anyone. If anyone touches you, scream like a motherfucker and I will personally run out here, pants down, to put that criminal dog down.  Now, here’s a stick of gum; I’ll be back in 4 or less.”  I mean, this kid soooo did not want to be there.  Much like co-ed sibling bathing, I think when your child is telegraphing discomfort, you’ve pretty much hit the limit on what you can require of him in this regard.  Unless, again, you are a crazy woman posing as a mother and you routinely make your child socially and sexually uncomfortable just so you don’t have to worry about his well-being.

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2 Responses to "Would You Like To Be My Neighbor?"

Can you adjust the language on the blog to say “Be the first to love this post”. Our neighbor decided it was too much work to fully shovel out the parking space in front of the house so the did it part way and now just park at a 45 degree angle out into the middle of the street. The gene pool is in serious need of re-chlorination.

You would like our street. Full side to side shoveling on the sidewalk AND a goat path connecting the front door of each house for the mailman.

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