For the last several months, our quiet middle class neighborhood has been under siege. The home next door was rented to a liar, his sourpuss wife and a couple of mongrel boys with skinhead haircuts. They proceeded to create a private junkyard, innundating the property with trucks, trailers, a boat, four-wheelers, a work van and a 30-foot dilapidated motor home parked on the front lawn! Yard maintenance was apparently a foreign concept, although bike ramps, blankets, trash and cigarette butts littered the dead grass. I was the first to confront Rich, a gangly, loud-mouth who couldn’t look me in the eyes when I said, “you don’t intend to park all of these vehicles here, do you?” He assured me that everything would be moved and rambled something about being nice, quiet neighbors. Thus began the Assault of the Transients, complete with more lies and a F*** You attitude that made me seethe every day
When they broke the fence between our homes moving their boat for the umpteenth time, I asked my son-in-law to access public records at the county to find out who owned the home. Shockingly, the four owners live only three blocks east of us; apparently oblivious in their beautifully manicured neighborhood. That really ticked me off! After three drafts of my letter (the first including several profane, sarcastic phrases), I drilled down to a straightforward outline of each violation and a plea for action and compliance with basic neighborhood standards. I cc’d everyone on my street. I waited.
Imagine my elation when I discovered that the liar, his sourpuss wife and the mongrels were moving! Was my letter the last straw? Had some of my polite elderly neighbors called the city or the landlords to complain as well? Rich bragged that they had found a bigger, better house in some poor unsuspecting neighborhood on the other side of town…I had this vision of them driving away in their dirty, noisy diesel truck as the neighbors danced in the street with middle fingers waving in their rear view mirror…Oh joy, oh rapture!
Last evening, a young girl and her father knocked on my door. They came in response to my letter and they wanted to know how they could make amends. I invited them in. We accepted their apologies and came to a new understanding. They said that my letter would be helpful in the lawsuit that Rich is threatening. We exchanged phone numbers and they promised more thorough screening of potential new tenants.
Admittedly, I am feeling heady about the power of ONE. I channeled my disgust and anger by speaking out and standing up for my rights. My cocky bravado was tempered by a painful realization. The person who would enjoy this story most is not here to tell it to. My mother would relish the twists and turns of this politically-incorrect neighborhood saga. She would laugh with me at the ironies of Rich and Co. (they own a cleaning service?!) and we would bask together in the victorious resolution.
She would be proud of me…and that is what I miss the most.