Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hi-ya, Neighbor!

I feel like the days of good neighbor-dom have come and gone, captured only on 80's sitcom television and in the hearts of our parents. Occasionally I'll get a smile or a "how's it going?" out of one of ours, but most of the encounters I've had with them have involved avoided eye contact or pretending I don't exist. Maybe it's because I sing too loudly in the evenings. Or maybe it's because our dogs sometimes bark during the day. Those are some serious offenses, I know, but that's no excuse for the neighbors who don't live in our immediate proximity! For instance, a few months ago I was throwing Riley's beloved frisbee and it landed right in the path of a neighbor who had seemingly appeared from nowhere. I yelled, "Whoops, sorry! How are you doing?" and got nothing in response. Instead they just turned around and vanished into the shadow that they had come out of in the first place and left me feeling incredibly dejected. We don't have to be bff's but at least say hello.

Anyways, this morning I was making my merry little way to work, pleased with myself for having left a few minutes early. I'm working on controlling my stress levels during morning traffic; stress, after all, creates an acidic environment in our bodies and throws all of our systems out of whack, meaning more potential for- you guessed it, fatigue and disease and a whole host of other bad side effects. In case you've been living in a cave and somehow missed the memo, stress=bad. Road rage is one of the few controllable stresses in my life so I'm making small steps towards eliminating it. Enough about stress, back to my story: leaving our neighborhood in the morning means either turning left across three ridiculous lanes of traffic or turning right, merging across to the emergency lane, and then pulling a u-turn to get in the direction I need to be headed. I usually employ the u-turn method. As I left our complex one of our neighbors turned out immediately after me, already looking annoyed that I somehow managed to beat him out. I pulled up to highway 17 and waited and waited for the opportunity to turn and not get smashed by an oncoming semi but alas, traffic was extra heavy this morning. Mr. Rogers behind me (I nicknamed him that because he needs to go back to preschool and watch Mr. Rogers and learn how to be a good neighbor) thought I was taking too long because he proceeded to lay on his horn and throw his arms up in a very unpleasant manner. I was shocked! I thought that as neighbors we were supposed to be on the same team, or at the very least exempt from the brutalities of the morning rush. How does he know I'm not some gangster who plans on slashing his tires tonight? That's right, he doesn't. (Don't worry, I won't do it). My immediate reaction was to stick my head out the window and yell something sarcastic at him, but I have a hard time with the window buttons in my new car so I settled for an long, obnoxious wave in the rear-view mirror. That'll teach him! The worst part is that I know he probably just got on the road and continued to tailgate and honk at other drivers, but I sat and sulked and thought mean thoughts towards him for at least 15 minutes, which totally ruined my plans for a zen ride to work. Be nice to your neighbors, folks. And if you can't be nice, the very least you can do is refrain from being mean.

Carl thinks I'm over-reacting to this whole episode and rolled his eyes at me when I said I was going to blog about it. "Maybe he was on the way to the hospital?" he suggested. "Or maybe he was having a bad day." I'm not buying it, Carl, and those aren't excuses to honk at your neighbor. So I apologize if you, like my dear husband, also think this story was a waste of time and not worth me getting upset over, but I think neighborly awareness needs to be raised and I'm not ashamed to be on the forefront of that movement!

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