I have become the neighborhood crazy lady. It seems like since I left my 9 to 5 and started working from home that I have become increasingly more aware of my neighbors, and what they are doing. Until about a year ago we already had a neighborhood busy body but she moved away, apparently leaving the position open for me. I am now acutely aware of my neighbors’ coming and goings, as well as all of their bad habits. They should all be grateful that I am not on the homeowner’s association board. More accurately, they should be thanking sweet baby Jesus that I have not yet convinced my husband to doctor me up some official looking neighborhood watch letterhead. I would be sending one line letters daily with comments such as “hey asshole, vegetable gardens are for the backyard, not next to your front porch!” and “maybe you are unaware that they picked up your garbage on Monday, so there is no need for your recycling bin to be at the curb on Friday, but great job saving the planet!” But seriously, nobody wants to see tomato plants and cucumber vines growing all over their neighbor’s front porch.
My latest obsession has been our neighbor who has no clue where his property line is located. In fairness, our lawn company did cut half of his grass last summer, mostly because they came on Tuesday after the neighbor had already spent all weekend cutting half of his grass, so they followed the line he made. When fall rolled around, he raked about 10 feet of his substantial property and called it a day. I raked up to our property line and left his leaves for a week until the forecast called for snow. I was concerned the plows would come through and push all of his leaves in the street into our driveway so I raked them all up to the curb where they still sit four months later. And now there is snow…
When our previous neighbors still occupied the house next door, we took turns snow blowing the sidewalk. Whoever saw the snow first was “it” and took care of the sidewalk between the houses. We tried this when our new neighbors moved in several years ago but they apparently didn’t understand the game. At the time I was doing a lot of the snow blowing since my husband was working crazy long hours. The first few times it snowed, I cleared a path between our driveway and theirs. Apparently the neighbor interpreted this gesture as me claiming the job of clearing his sidewalk for all of eternity, because when he does his snow removal first, he avoids our house like the plague. He hasn’t stepped more than 10′ away from his driveway with a shovel.
Clearly, our neighbor is both unclear and unconcerned about where his property is and what he needs to do about it. The worst part is that every year, the arbitrary property line seems to move. The good news is we are gaining more property, the bad news is it’s not really ours, we just maintain it. After I watched a giant mound of leaves sit and gather snow for months I had finally had enough. When my husband went out to shovel after the first substantial snowfall, I followed him and told him exactly where to stop. I had done a little research (and measuring) and knew exactly where our property line was. The next day I looked outside to see that our neighbor had shoveled most of his property but left a 20′ piece of sidewalk uncleared. He was apparently throwing down the gauntlet. We had both shoveled at least a half dozen times so far and the large section of sidewalk remained covered. I know it was killing my husband to leave it be, but the more we give, the more they take. Pretty soon we will be taking care of their whole yard.
I have thought of a dozen ways to make this situation worse, but not one that would actually encourage the neighbor to just shovel his damn sidewalk. At this point, I am thinking I should either put some crime scene tape around the patch of sidewalk or build a snowman or ski jump right in the middle of it. At least the kids could get some use out of it that way. A few days ago my daughter was going to go over and ask the neighbor to play and my husband said “I don’t know…can you get through the sidewalk there?” half mocking me. And then last night over a foot of snow dropped on us. This morning my husband went out to snow blow and I watched him walk all the way over to the neighbor’s driveway, clearing the entire sidewalk between our houses. I wanted to tell him that our neighbor would now consider this our job, but I know he wouldn’t really care. He is the one who keeps watching the rest of the neighborhood try to traverse the giant mound of snow with their dogs and small children. Unfortunately, I think I now need to call my landscapers back to get a quote for cutting two lawns this spring.
*I wrote this while trying to drown out my daughter making Instagram reels and listening to my boyfriend (Mr. Henry Rollins).