Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Neighborly Confrontation

Yesterday I sat at dinner with a neighbor and my parents, discussing neighborhood issues. I have, over the last few years, realized that as one get older and solidify your professional and social relationships and develop a routine (which can be difficult to break), your worries become smaller and smaller issues, and disputes get pettier. This set the background for my confrontation with a neighbor today.

We live in a subdivision outside a small, unincorporated village 30 miles outside Laramie, Wyoming. There is a small gravel road that traverses the subdivision. The road is owned, in places, by the adjacent property's homeowner, while in other places it is owned by the original developer, who still lives in the subdivision. In front of one woman's property, she has placed rocks (some quite large) by the side of the road to "defend" her property-line from the grading machine, which goes around about four times a year to level the gravel. When the road is graded, she parks her cars in front of her property to prevent the grader from impinging on her property and, over time, eroding into her claim.

While I respect her right to prevent dimunition of her property, the rocks in the road could damage cars or the grading machine itself if they were not seen. This is especially a concern in the winter. Furthermore, a car that strayed too far toward the rocks could see its tires or wheel covers damaged.

The local neighbors and neighborhood association have spent hours upon hours debating strategies to prevent this woman from making our subdivision less beautiful. It often seems they are being as passive-aggressive as possible in these strategies, so I took matters into my own hands.

Driving home today, I parked my car in the grass across from her home, exited my car, and proceeded to pick up the rocks in the road and toss them into her yard. I have done this several times over the past few weeks, and she replaces the rocks faithfully. This time she witnessed me moving the rocks, and the following conflict ensued (my smartass rating was an eleven):

Lady: "Hey! Hey! What are you doing?"
RetiredJK: "I'm moving these rocks out of the road, I can't figure out how they got here."
Lady: "I put them in the road!"
RJK: "They must be removed. It's simply unsafe to have large rocks in the road, and it disturbs the natural habitat."
Lady: "I will call the sheriff if you keep moving the rocks."
RJK: "I pledge to keep moving the rocks."
Lady: "What is your name sir?"
RJK: "Mohammed."
RJK: "Abdul."
Lady: "What is your last name?"
RJK: "Mohammed." (again, I kind of look like an Arab with my big bushy black beard.) ( I think she went for it.)
Lady: "Hello.... Mohammed."
(I try to shake her hand unsuccessfully)
Lady: "Do you live here?"
RJK: "No, I trek out here from Laramie just to move the rocks out of the road."
Lady: "I'm calling the sheriff."
RJK: "Please do, again my name is Mohammed Abdul Mohammed, and my phone number is 307-777-7777. Praise be to Allah."
Lady: "I am calling the sheriff."
RJK: "You're nuts."

I am driving back to my home now and I plan on removing the other half of the rocks.

Also, I am sitting at the public library listening to Centennial Book Club, and I have realized that book clubs are simply excuses for married women to get together, drink wine, and gossip.