Monday, April 4, 2011
What I've Learned From My Neighbors
I think I've mentioned before that Kitten, Oscelot and I have a home in the downtown area of my city. Since the early nineties there has been a sort of rebirth in the neighborhoods surrounding out downtown and the housing priceees have gone up, the neighborhoods have gotten cleaner and historic districs have been created. The end result, for the most part, has been that relatively low income homes that were pretty unsightly have been turned into nice family homes that have a certain degree of maintenance required by the city, so they are a lot nicer now.
Our neighborhood is one of those neighborhoods now. We became a Historic District at teh beginning of this past year. Outside of the massive increase in property taxes, I actually like the idea. For the most part homes in our neighborhood are owned by the people who live in them, and there has been an extensive amount of improvement to these homes in the last five years. I've actually started to agonize over the need for new siding on the house.
The exception to this we live in the home we own rule are my neighbors to the right. For three solid houses we have renters living next to us. Now, I know you can have nice renters. I used to be one. Trouble is, the guy who owns the houses he rents does not keep them up. We call him Slumlord. He also has all the houses available for a Lease to Own option, which means the renter has to pay a down payment rather than a deposit in hopes of one day owning the house. He rents them to people who could never afford to maintain them or pay the meagre rent. (I think its like $400 a month, next to nothing) When they break the lease he gets to keep the down payment. Its a great deal for him. We hate it.
The result of this let anyone rent so I can take their money policy is we have had some really interesting (and by interesting I mean trashy) neighbors. Now, as a mature adult, I figured I knew a few things about the world, that is, until I mived in with Kitten and met the neighbors. I see now, I've been going about things wrong for quite some time. I thought I might share with you a few of the things I have learned from the people who live in the rentals next to me.
1. If You Really Love Your Spouse Scream Obscenities At Them I honestly didn't know that people actually still did this. If you love your spouse, you should be telling them how worthless they are on a regular basis. You aren't doing it at the top of your voice, you don't care for them enough. Personally, I've learned dropping the c-bomb is a great way to tell a lady she's special to you and that telling a man he is as worthless as some part of a horse or other beast of burden is a real compliment.
2.If You Really, Really Love Them, Do it In the Front Yard Apparently this is the next step up in improving relationship dynamics. (I have to confess every now and again Kitten and I will peep out the windows when they really get to yelling at each other.
3. Possession is Not 9/10ths of the Law About two years ago we had a calico cat show up on our front porch with a broken leg. I took pity on her because she was starving and I put out some cat food. Not suprisingly, she stuck around just like Kitten said she would. A few weeks later two more showed up, a smoke blue bobtail and a creamy-orange bobtail. Both of them had bones poking through their skin and could barely move around the porch. I'm a sucker, so I fed and watered them. (The short version is, we now feed a whole host of strays) Anyway, so we named the grey bobtail Jade because she has pretty green eyes, and the cream bobtail Creamsicle, for know discernible reason I can recall.
Yesterday Oscelot was sitting ont he porch talking to a friend of hers on the phone when our neighbor from two houses to the right interrupted her conversation to inform her that both of those cats belong to him, technically. Jade is supposed to be called Star and Creamsible is supposed to be called Snowball. Oscelot asked him if he was sure, since these cats had lived on our porch for two years and showed up starving. He affirmed they were his. She asked him if he knew that Jade had had kittens and that we were paying tohave her fixed once she finished nursing. He said it was nice of us to take care of his cat like that. Oscelot cooly informed him she was pretty sure that Jade belonged to us now, unless of course he wanted to take her home and take proper care of her. He said no, she was his cat, but he just lets her run around and do whatever she wants. They like to be free. Moron.
I'm working on finding her and Creamsicle homes as soon as I possibly can. They deserve better than my porch and definately deserve better than the meth lab that jerk calls home.
4. Garage Sales Are Not a Viable Form of Income The Neighbors before the ones we have now (whom are, big surprise, moving out soon)were unemployed. They were unemployed the enitre time they lived in the hosue next to us. I wondered aloud several times how they managed to get together the down payment on the house and how they paid their rent. Turns out the guy living there told us that they were allowed to take the house unemployed because they paid the down payment plus three months rent in advance. Once their first three months was up Iwatched eagerly to see what would happen.
As time for the rent came due, I was shocked to see that everything from the inside of their house: furniture, children's toys, dishes, cookware, EVEN FOOD FROM THEIR CABINETS was out in the lawn with a giant "Yard Sale" sign in front of it. It didn't do them much good. The minute they made enough money to get a pack of cigarettes they left the house (Kitten and I were on the Porch) some people drove up and selected some items, but since no one came when they yelled at the house they put the box of stuff in their car and drove off anyway.
After five successive months of garage sales new techniques would have to be employed.
5. No Good Deed Goes Unpunished. When Garage Sale Neighbors gave up on the garage sales they moved to other strategems. For example, he brought his newborn over to Kitten and I while we were on the porch and takled about the responsibilites of parenting. Then he asked if he could mow our lawn for $20. We told him no, we didn't have the cash onhand. (True, and I like mowing, because I like being outside.) He smiled happily and said we could pay him by the end of the week, he'd go get the mower.I called after him helplessly to please not blow grass into my flower beds.
He did a terrible job, there were huge mower sized tufts of grass along the entire perimiter of our property. There was geass in my flower beds. The mowing was uneven. I took Kitten to work the next morning at 4:30, she had an early shift. At 5 am, just after I had pulled off my hoodie and was crawling back in bed, he was beating on my door, demanding his $20 and telling me what a good job he did, and how he would weed-eat and weed my flower beds for an additional $20 for each job. I dug in my purse for $20 and I told him no thank you, I would take care of it myself. And I sure did. After I re-mowed the lawn.
When he moved out and our new neighbor moved in, I was delighted. This guy and his wofe seemed normal, even if his children were a little exuberant. I noticed when they began the move in that they were setting trash on their front porch. I told them kindly that if they wanted to they could use ours until their trash cart came. Me, of course, assuming they had trash service and it hadn't been dropped off yet.
Kids, its been almost a year, they still don't have trash service. STILL! About six months ago Oscelot made a list of all the local trash services and how much they cost and gave it to neighbor. Five months ago she called Slumlord and told him about it. He didn't respond to her messages. Four months ago she took one of our spare recycling cans and took all his trash out of our dumpster (it was our entire dumpster too. Know how we know? We don't use diapers.) and chucked it on his front porch. When he came out and started to yell at her, she told him off and then told him unless he was going to pay us for our trash service, and she meant the whole damn bill, he better stop using our trash can. He stopped.
They are clearing out of their house right now, his wife left him for some other guy, and I'm not suprised to see that they have trash all over their front and back porch because they have no place to put it. Serves Slumlord right. (I might even call the health department.)
Right, so that's a start anyway. I have to go and clean myself up for work, but I'll be thinking of you, and my neighbors, today. I'll have a second installment later on tonight. By the way, the picture at the top is Creamcsicle, isn't he cute?