Monday, May 10, 2010

Wanted: Cyber Hugs

We had a bit of an incident around here last night and even thinking about it makes me want to start to sob again.

I really don't want to blog about it because I don't want to have to replay the events in my head.  I think the only reason I'm going to is because I know the bloggy love might make me feel a tad better.

It's all because I told my brother I would sell his old car (my old car, really) on Craig's List if I could keep the pocket change money.  He came over on Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. and I told him to park it on the street in front of our house.  Keep in mind that we live in the city.  It's a quiet neighborhood but the streets are still lined up in the traditional square block grid.

There were other cars already parked directly in front of our house so my brother parked the car across the street.

We had a family wedding to attend that day followed by a birthday party the next morning and afternoon.  We went to church at 6:45 p.m. at the University and then came home.  Brian stayed outside with William to water our new grass and to return a few borrowed tools to some neighbors.  I went inside to put Lucy to bed.

After Lucy was down I went in my bedroom to change into some sweats and that's when I noticed the old man who lives across the street eyeing my brother's car suspiciously.  He appeared to be writing down the license plate number.

I should note that by this point the car had been there for 31 hours.  City ordinance says you can leave a car parked on the street for up to 48 hours.  So even though we weren't doing anything wrong I knew what it felt like to have a strange car parked in front of your house for more than a few hours.  You get to know the rhythm of the neighborhood and you also know when something is a bit off.  It's how we all look out for each other.  Our neighbors are totally awesome like that.

I had met this elderly gentleman before when he welcomed us to the neighborhood.  I'd say he's over 80 years old at the very least.  He was a very sweet man.  So I quickly threw on a change of clothes so I could run out to explain to him why we had the car and that I was just about to move it closer to our house.

I didn't have any shoes by the front door so I had to run out barefoot.

"Hi!" I said from across the street, "That's my car.  I was just about to move it!"

"This is your car?" He said in a grumpy voice, "It's been here for FOUR DAMN DAYS!"

"Umm," I said, confused, "I don't think so.  My brother just came yester--"

"Don't give me that! It's been here for four days and my wife is handicapped and we haven't been able to park our car here for FOUR DAMN DAYS!"

[His wife has Alzheimer's but is still able-bodied and can walk to and from the car with ease.  The car was not parked in front of their walkway.  There was plenty of space in front of and behind my brother's car.  And they have an empty garage behind their house.  But I digress.]

"Oh sir I'm very, very sorry.  But my brother only just parked here yesterday and I was just coming down to move it but I had to put my baby--"

"Well you better hurry up because I'm calling the cops!"

"Sir, I'm very, very sorry.  I didn't mean to--"

"You're a dumb ****ing woman is what you are!"

The conversation actually went on a lot longer.  All consisting of him yelling obscenities at me and me sincerely apologizing.  But that last comment was my tipping point.  I started bawling.  It was one of those moments where (a) I didn't do anything wrong and (b) I was truly very sorry for any inconvenience I might have caused.  But no matter what I did the man just keep yelling and swearing at me.  I couldn't do anything to make the situation right.

I ran to the backyard to get Brian.  I told Brian what had happened through gasps of sobs and he told me to go get the keys to the car and stay inside with William.

Of course William was very confused by now as to why his mother was in hysterics.  He starting rubbing my back and asking me if my "feelings got bad."  He wondered if singing might make me feel better so he sang "Do Wha Diddy" to me.  I might have giggled through my tears just a bit.

After I settled down I looked out the front windows to see if I could see Brian talking some sense into the man.  But all I saw was Brian walking away from his house shaking his head.  Brian moved my brother's car closer to our house.

When Brian came back into the house he enveloped me in a hug and I sobbed some more.  He was laughing a bit now.

"Love," he explained. "It's not your fault.  Those kind of people, there's nothing you can say or do.  They're just angry at the world."

Apparently Brian had tried to talk to the man himself.  Brian's very mild-mannered and I really thought he could make the man understand.  But when Brian told him that he didn't appreciate the way he had spoken to his wife the man told Brian he was "scum."  And that we weren't welcome in the neighborhood.  And then he raised his fist at Brian.  HE RAISED HIS FIST AT BRIAN.

"Are you for real right now?"  Brian asked.

"Get off my step!" The man shouted.  And that was that.  All over a stupid parked car.

We called our other neighbor to see if perhaps he's done this before.  It seemed so out of nature because, as I said above, this man was so sweet when we first met him.  In fact, I think the reason I was taken so off guard is because we have found nothing but sweet, kind, helpful neighbors since we moved in.

The only conclusion we could come to is that he's under a lot of stress with his wife's illness.  It's still no excuse to treat an innocent person the way he did but I have no choice but to pray for him.

I didn't sleep well last night.  Tossing and turning as the events flooded me over and over.  I can't stand the idea of someone hating me.  Someone telling me I'm not welcome.  I just want to make it right.  I want to bake him cookies or mow his lawn or be a listening ear.  But Brian tells me no.  He said I'll just escalate matters.

"I just really feel bad for the guy," Brian said.

And I guess that's what it comes down to.  Whenever I feel bad about it, whenever I can't find peace, I have to close my eyes and go deep into prayer.  I pray for him.  For his wife.  For peace in their hearts.  For their well-being.

And if that doesn't help there's always "Do Wha Diddy Diddy Dum Diddy Do."


  1. Consider yourself cyber hugged. Times a hundred.

    That's so rough. Let me just encourage and reassure you, though, that Brian is right: those kind of people *are* just angry at the world. Not that that makes it any easier to shoulder the burden of the words he yelled at you.

    You are such a sweetheart. I would not have been able to profusely apologize the way you did, once he started slurring those hateful words at me.

    I'm so sorry that happened to you...

  2. Tell Brian to use his best Arnold voice (because we all know he has one) and call the old man and give him what for.

  3. HUGS.

    I agree with Darice 100%. I'm so sorry Jenny.

  4. HUGS!!! I know what you mean, you would never do ANYTHING to cause an elderly man and his ill wife inconvenience. I, too, would have apologized profusely even as obscenities were being hurled. I think it's how we were respect elderly people no matter what. It doesn't take away from the fact that his words were hurtful, especially since you have tried to be good neighbors to them. I think about my grandparents, who are the NICEST people and would never say a mean word to/about anyone. My grandma has recently been showing signs of dimentia at a rapid pace. It makes my grandpa really upset and very surly to staff that treat them at their home. They aren't the same people they have been for the past 90 years. And you are completely right, you can only pray for them. You are a good person, you have every right to feel hurt, and I don't want you to lose sleep over it anymore. You did everything that you could and that's all you can do. (Followed by another hug.)

  5. Oh, that is just horrible! Horrible, I tell you. And you were so composed and sweet through it all! I hope he feels miserable and comes over with an apology.

    P.S. You are a wonderful person, an outstanding mama, and anyone would want to have you as a neighbor. I know I would! :)

  6. Ick! I hope that never happens to me or anyone I know in our old age. Can't there be a 'happy' pill that old people just have to take regardless? It seems that there are a lot of 'em out there! I would have cried too...old buzzard! Do Wha Diddy, William! Good job making mommy comfortable! :)

  7. I'm sorry this happened. I do wonder what really set the "gentle"man off though. It might be his mind, his child could have died or be quite sick, he may be overburdened with his wife, his health may be declining...who knows. Unless something has changed in his mental abilities though, his behavior toward both you and Brian was in poor form. I really do hope you are not put through such an encounter again. I also hope it was just a slip in the man's character. I think he might just be in need of as many prayers as you are hugs.

    Hug. Hug...


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