Last night was something like a breaking point. My next door neighbors have always been loud and inconsiderate – deceivingly absent until the wee hours of the night when their joyful chorus of profanities, screeching tires, and slamming doors springs to life. Last night I was jolted out of an otherwise blissful sleep by the sound of one of these neighbors backing her car into mine. At least that’s what it sounded like. One of her friends, a man whose cursing I have become familiar with in the past few months, was shouting at her from the driveway, “No! Turn harder! No, the other way! $#@&!”
Normally when these neighbors make a scene outside my bedroom window I grumble to myself, tighten my eyes and roll over in bed. But last night my dear, sweet, innocent car was in jeopardy! I jumped to the window and saw that my car was, in fact, a player in this drama. I was parked legally, peacefully, in my spot in the driveway. One of the boistrous neighbors, unpresent, had parked their car in a spot that it should not have, and now this other boistrous neighbor was going to attempt to squeeze her car out between them. She would need a can opener. My car was in danger of a healthy-sized scratch, if not a full-on crunch.
I flung my bedroom window open and yelled, “Did you just hit my car?” Aha, suddenly, accountability! The frustrated woman driver, now also likely panicked, yelled back, “No, that was just snow!” Her friend who had been directing her yelled to me, “Hey, your car is FINE.” I continued to watch from my window as they attempted the impossible. There was no way she would squeeze between them, but at least now they knew I could see them. Surely they would be more careful, knowing they were being watched. But then I heard the man and woman arguing and the man said, “No, you’re fine. You need to worry about Jamie’s car, you don’t need to worry &%#$@ about some stranger’s car.”
Indignant, I shouted down, “I’m WATCHING, you know!”
The man yelled up again, “HEY, look, your car is FINE!”
I watched them struggle in vain to maneuver her car until finally I couldn’t stand it. I knew they were going to hit me. “Do you need me to move my car?”
At first they must have thought I was antagonizing them, but they were desperate and the guy said, “You’ll come out here?”
“Hold on.” I tried to convey in those two words how thoroughly inconvenienced I was – how halfway into the sweetest dreams I had been.
I pulled on my coat over my pajamas and stepped into some shoes. I looked like some frazzled woman from the movies. My pajama pants are the kind that only come down to the knees and I wore the shoes without socks, so the snow nipped at bare skin as I stepped outside. And then I was there on the driveway with them and suddenly it was a little awkward, since I had just minutes ago introduced myself by shouting, “Hey, I’m WATCHING you!”
I moved my car so the girl could get out, I pulled right back into my legal parking spot. The girl rolled down her window and said with sincerity, “Thank you so much!” She shouldn’t have thanked me – my motive was selfish. I didn’t care at all if she got where she needed to go – I wanted to protect my car. Realizing this as I flopped back into bed I said, “Oh God, I deserve insomnia.”
Well, after that, I did have insomnia, but at least my car wasn’t crunched.
I wish I had been nicer. I wish I didn’t think I was better than my neighbors. I wish I would see moments like the one that happened last night as a chance to show LOVE rather than being a grump.