Won't You Be My Neighbor?
Guys! The craziest thing happened to me this weekend, I'm dying to tell you about it!
OK, back story: Our backyard wall is mostly shared with the neighbor directly behind us but a tiny bit of the very corner of our backyard, behind our compost, is shared with a different neighbor. Also, that neighbor has a large mesquite tree near the corner that we share. This past fall that tree got very overgrown and was starting to block our compost. So I hired someone to trim the tree back so that it wouldn't hang into our yard any more. It was just a random landscaper since the usual company I would call was busy. While this guy was trimming the tree and I saw him throw some of the branches that he trimmed into the neighbor's yard! This was not OK. So I asked him to please not do that. Anyway, I felt like I really should go tell the neighbor and apologize but a few days went by and then I didn't think of it and I forgot. I definitely should have said something to the neighbor but I didn't.
Fast forward several months to yesterday. I was puttering around the house and went to look out the backdoor for Drew and could not believe what I saw! This corner-neighbor had put up a big pole and attached a piece of cardboard to the top of the pole so that it was directly facing out house. On the piece of cardboard he wrote:
"The next time U throw shit in my yard you can deal with the HELL'S ANGELS"
I am not making this up! Our neighbor took the time to erect a sign on a POLE to tell us this.
I just stood there in disbelief, I honestly could not believe anyone would do something like that! Why not just knock on our door to say something or even leave a nasty letter on our door - ? Chris wasn't home at the time and I knew that if he saw that he would be so angry, he hates bullying in any form and this was most certainly an aggressive act. I also figured that being confronted with anger, and probably by a man, was exactly what this guy wanted. And I would not be giving him that satisfaction.
So I went to his house and rang the doorbell. (I had actually thought about leaving a note about where I was going or telling our next door neighbor since this guy didn't not seem to be a super nice person. But I really had a feeling that this was a person who liked to hide behind threats and wouldn't know what to do if someone responded with kindness.) Anyway, two adorable kids opened the door with a very enthusiastic, "Hi!" I could see towards the back of the house that someone was lying on the couch in pajama pants so I kind of peered in and said very sweetly, "Hello...?" The man on the couch sat up and I said, "Hi, I'm your neighbor and I think there's been a misunderstanding. I hired someone to trim the trees in our backyard several months ago and if he threw any of the branches in your yard I am so sorry. That's not something I would ever have someone do and that's nothing that my husband or I would ever do. I'm so sorry and I would be really angry if someone did that to me too."
The guy said, "OK." He was clearly taken aback that a nice young woman and not some angry man had shown up at his door. Or that someone 15 years younger was being more mature that he was. I went on, "And in the future if there's every anything that you want to talk about, we live just behind you. Please come over and knock on our door. We'd love to have you in for a cup of coffee. So, anyway, my name is Kelsey, it's nice to meet you and I hope you have a nice weekend."
He said, "OK." Still on the couch, looking a bit dumbfounded. Kelsey exit stage left.
Chris got home about 30 minutes later and sure enough he was not very happy with the aggressive sign posted in the back corner. But I assured him that based on how our neighbor reacted I thought the sign would be down by the next day. While we were talking we heard some rustling outside and looked to see that the pole and sign were being wrangled down (getting caught in the tree on the way...which I have to admit gave me a tiny bit of satisfaction).
I am just so dumbfounded that someone would do this to a neighbor. Even if you are angry and you think, "I'm going to put up a mean sign!" you don't actually do it. Because that's crazy.
It also makes me feel really sad, knowing that there are people who would choose to react this way instead of just coming to talk to us. How many times has a small misunderstanding lead to a lifelong feud or someone getting seriously hurt?
I choose to go through life believing that everyone is a nice person just trying to live their life the best way they know how. I believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt. I believe that the meaning of life is to put more good in this world than it had when you were born - the old Girl Scout rule of leaving a place nicer than you found it. It's a bummer when you come across someone who seems to be putting more bad into the world than good. And that they might be teaching their kids by example. *Sigh*
But the issue is resolved and my hope is that maybe this guy will carry that bit of kindness forward in his life in some way. Maybe he'll think twice before assuming someone is being intentionally mean to him and instead try to talk to the person before retaliating. Who knows.
It definitely shook me up a little yesterday, whew! But now I have a pretty awesome story to tell and Chris and I have a had a few laughs over it because it's so ridiculous. Plus we're saying things to each other like, "Hey, would you mind taking out the trash. If not, YOU CAN DEAL WITH THE HELL'S ANGELS!" It's pretty awesome.
Let's just be nice to each other OK? And if not...you know who you can deal with! ;)