Wednesday, February 9, 2011

There is ALWAYS a BAD neighbor

For anyone that is just joining in for the first time, let me bring you up to speed.  My hubby and I have made twenty-one moves in the last 39 years.  A couple of posts ago, I was telling you about the physical part of moving.  (It is both expensive and you get the added bonus that it is a real pain in the ass)  But today, I am going to share some of my stories about the neighborhoods we lived in.  

Neighborhoods are as different as the towns themselves.  Each is it's own little microcosm.  Any neighborhood is as good or bad as the people that live there.  I, not only, have been privy to personally trying to find great neighbors for myself and my family, but professionally, as a real estate agent finding those nice neighbors for my clients.  This is what I know for sure. 


A neighborhood can look great.  You can knock on the door of the house next to the prospective purchase and the people will tell you wonderful things.  Great schools, nice families, good this, good that, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.  But here is the deal!!
Chances are your new  neighborhood has either a bad neighbor, an unusual neighbor or someone they don't want you to know about yet .  No one is going to advertise to a stranger knocking on their door that they have an odd ball in their midst.

Don't get me wrong.  I always found great neighbors, good friends, nice schools but without exception there has been an INCIDENT.  In a few of our "passing through" neighborhoods we have had several incidents.  

Some of the more notable that quickly come to mind:

Champaign-Urbana, IL.  - This was probably the most normal of all the neighborhoods, we had the pleasure to be in.  We knew the second we walked in the house with the realtor that this was the house.  So charming!!!! The houses up and down the street were charming too.  Young family on one side and an older couple next door.  Love that.  Older couples when we were in our 20's made me feel secure.  Not long after we moved in I am on my driveway playing with my 3 year old'  My kiddo has his big wheel showing me his little tricks.  The driveway was a fairly long one that curved toward the house.  I saw my older neighbor coming down the street at a pretty good clip but didn't think much of it.  He turns into my drive, hits my child on his big wheel, then squeals to a screeching stop.  OMG.  The big wheel is flying, my 3 year old is flying through the air into the bushes. (Great news, that while my kiddo was scared beyond belief, the Big Wheel took the brunt of the hit.   Here's the kicker.  The guy gets out of the car, not even considering that he might have hurt my son and starts yelling at me for being in his driveway.  The guy had the wrong house.  Totally wrong house.  BAD NEIGHBOR!!!! Turns out he was drunk and couldn't find his way home.
Where are those MADD mom's when you need them?? Did that group even exist in the 1970's???

Cedar Rapids, IA  - I will say the most entertaining place we ever lived, BAR NONE.  The oddest dynamic of neighbors that ever lived on the same street.   Some of the best neighborhood pals I would ever have lived on that street but some of the oddest people would live there also.

Right across the street was Mrs B.  Mrs. B  is one of the kindest, sweetest, people that you could possibly meet. We lived in Cedar Rapids from about 1977-1980.  In those days, people that had bipolar disorders were said to have manic depressive syndrome.  I know very little about it except that Mrs. B  warned us early on that if she did anything unusual that meant her meds were out of whack.  Seems her doctors couldn't  find medications that worked for her and when they tried various anti-psychotic drugs, they didn't always work in the appropriate or expected manner. (Surprise !!! odd things happening in the neighborhood today) To this day I am so empathetic to people struggling with bipolar disorders. 

Anyway,  was true to her word.  She would be fine one day and the next, she would have a bonfire in her front yard burning various things.  (It depended on who she was upset with)  At one point she had built an effigy of herself in her wedding dress and was burning her likeness at the stake.  Not something you see everyday.  She would flush her wedding rings down the toilet and throw rocks through her own windows.  The next day though she was as sweet as pie.

SAME NEIGHBORHOOD, DIFFERENT DAY...  Next to Mrs. B.'s house, there live a minister and his family.  This minister was the "fire and brimstone" kind of minister.  He gave the phrase "Holier than Thou" some real clarity.  I got the feeling early on he felt like we weren't quite religious enough as he was constantly wanting to save our souls.   One afternoon, I hear a scream from outside.  I mean a SCREAM.  My now 5 year old (same kiddo that was hit by the car) has a arrow through his face.  A real arrow shaft protruding from his face.  (the shaft hanging out of his upper lip area right under his nose).  While I am usually capable of handling emergencies fairly well, I am losing it at that point.  There is an ARROW IN MY KID'S FACE!!!   The preachers kid was practicing with a real bow and arrow.  He was 13 at the time and kind of stood there saying he was sorry but still.... Anyway, I took kiddo to the emergency room, they called in a plastic surgeon that rebuilt his upper lip.  They said the arrow went in at an angle and took out the soft pallet of his mouth for good measure.  The next day when the dust settled so to speak, hubby and   I go over to have a little chat with the preacher and his wife.  Here's the good part....are you ready????.......He said to me "BOY'S WILL BE BOY'S. But he finished with a God wants us to forgive each other, it is the right thing to do.  NOT EVEN AN APOLOGY!!! I am thinking God wanted him to tell my kiddo that he was sorry that his kid SUCKS as an archer.

SAME NEIGHBORHOOD DIFFERENT DAY... Next to the preacher's house we get a new family in from India.  This poor family was so disoriented.  The wife had come from having a house full of servants in India and knew nothing about cooking, cleaning or anything domestic at all.  At first, I felt extremely sorry for her.  I would help her with little things from time to time. Show her how to mend something or how to sort and do laundry.  Well, this is a case that "no good deed goes unpunished".  I guess she figured if I was capable of keeping house, I must be the servant part of the neighborhood.   My door bell started ringing around 7:00 AM every morning with a list of chores for me to do and a pile of laundry to wash.  I continued to help for a couple of days but tried to convey to her that she had to participate and learn to do for herself.  She wasn't getting the message and I cut her off from my laundry services.  I hope that she figured it out or found someone else to be her servant. She paid me back in spades, though.  Christmas Eve hubby and I go out for supper with friends and when we got home the house was ransacked, robbed and Christmas is gone.  She saw some guys in a white van hanging around and asked if she could help them.  They said they were wondering if we were home as they were friends.  No, I saw them leave.  They aren't home.  Thanks lady!!!

I could go on forever with stories about our various homes.  Maybe on a later post, I will add a few more. There are some real doozies that I haven't touched upon.  But I will close today's post with a story about a Texas neighbor.

Y'all (get it) that have been following along, know that I have a TX pal that lived across the street from me.  Next door to her she had some neighbors that were hysterically funny, the life of the party.  In fact they had parties for every occasion.  The thing about them is they weren't into house upkeep at all.  TX pal's yard was impeccable while the funny party hardy neighbors yard needed MAJOR attention.   They not only kept trash cans (over-flowing) in front of the house but the grass was a mess, the flower beds horrific, and the added bonus was the decorations of whatever the last party was stayed put until the next big blow out.  For example there were still Halloween decorations all over the house and yard at Thanksgiving time.  None of this really affected me much so I comisserated  with TX pal during our morning walks about all the trash and such but is was making her crazy.
One day all the neighbors were standing in front chit chatting about nothing important.  Party guy was there too.  He said "isn't it nice that while most neighbors have a BAD neighbor, this one doesn't."  I was just waiting for TX pal to say


The good for the day....all the good neighbors that were there for me when my kiddo was hurt or shot at or any other time just to be a good friend.

The BAD for the day.... There is less neighboring going on in today's culture.  People hardly know who they live by. 

The weird for the day...My kiddo survived his childhood.

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