Thursday, December 20, 2007

Love Thy Neighbor?

Today, I am going to use this forum as an opportunity to vent my frustrations. You'd think that with a name like Revolution, there'd be more of that here, but really, I am a pretty mellow person.

We've lived in our house for almost 3 years now and we get along with each of our neighbors beautifully, except one. His name is Steve. He is 40-something, divorced, and quite possibly the most selfish, loathsome person I've ever met - and I have the dubious honor of living directly next door to him. Steve runs his own mold-home-inspection (scam) business, so he spends most of his time locked away in his house by himself. I visit with him and conversate with him as often as I can muster. Other than me, his only visitor is his on again/off again girlfriend - a twenty-something stripper who recently had her kids taken away by the state. Last time I checked, she hasn't been back since she stole his car and went on the lamb with it.

We first ran afoul of this neighbor during Hurricane Wilma in October 2005. He offered to put all of our frozen/refrigerated goods into his freezer/refrigerator that was running off of a generator. He then announced to the neighbors that he was going to take his girlfriend (a different 20-something stripper) to the airport in Orlando; he collected everyone's gas cans and cash and promised that he'd be back by nightfall - he obviously turned off the generator when he left. Five days later (we thought he might be dead), he returned empty handed with this excuse: "She couldn't fly out, so we got a hotel in Orlando. I didn't come back because I was getting laid. Do you blame me?" I stifled the expected reaction, and simply tried to ignore the fact that all of our food had spoiled in his refrigerator/freezer (food that we and our neighbors would have gladly eaten had we known that he was going to skip town on us). That was infraction #1.

Infraction #2: The hurricane blew over the wooden fence that divides Steve's property from mine. I absolutely need a fence to keep my dog, Memphis, contained. Steve made it clear that he had no intention of doing anything at all about the fence until his insurance company cut him a check (we all know how long that could take.) 3 days after the hurricane I embarked upon the job of erecting the downed fence and using posts to brace it up as a temporary measure for containing my dog. A few weeks passed. We came home from church one Sunday morning to find the fence was completely gone - removed and piled in his front yard for bulk garbage pick-up. Luckily, his excuse for being an A-hole this time did not involve him getting laid, for I might have snapped. His excuse for removing the fence without a word to us? I wouldn't know. I shelved it. Now by some miracle, we came home to find that our dog had chosen this morning of all mornings to sleep in. She hadn't yet gone outside to find that the fence was missing! Let me clarify that when a Bluetick Coonhound gets out, they have no limit as to how far they will go. So it was a miracle that she did not go missing. No thanks to Steve. Within a week, I had erected a chain-link fence that probably cost me about $150 and hours of back-breaking work digging the holes. Seriously, that was one of the worst jobs I've ever had to do - installing that chain link fence.

#3:Over time, Steve has become more lonely, loathsome, and irritable. Last month, we invited some friends and neighbors to come by and sit around a bonfire in our backyard. Apparently Steve thought that we were being too loud, because he came out of his house and yelled, "Shut the F__ up!" Keep in mind that every one of his neighbors was out there with us. (He didn't know this because it was dark out.) Also keep in mind that I have consistently invited Steve to every party we've had and he is the only neighbor that has not yet made an appearance.

#4:Only two weeks later, he had the audacity to curse out my wife in broad daylight. She was out in the back yard on a Saturday afternoon playing with our dog, and he came bursting out of the house and proceeded to lay into her with a string of obscenities, telling her to "shut her F-ing dog up." Those of you who know my wife, know that she is no damsel - that he is lucky my Irish red-head didn't hop over that fence and kick him in the jewels. That Steve would scream at a woman in this way tells me a lot about his character - or lack of it. It also helps to explain his fascination with bedding young women who have low self-esteem.

#5 & the reason for this rant: I return home today to find that the chain link fence has been torn down. Steve has decided to put up a wooden fence in its place. When I asked him why he didn't at least tell me about these plans, his response was classic A-hole Steve, "You weren't home yesterday, when the crew came over to start the job. Besides, the contractor says that the fence is on my property so I can do anything I want to do with it." But that isn't even the best part - the fence he is erecting will no longer reach all the way to the front edge of his home, leaving an 8 foot gap in my own fence line. When I asked him about this 8 foot gap in my own fence line he proclaimed, "It's not my problem!" and stomped back into his house. Lucky for me, the contractor is a dog lover and he situated (jerry-rigged) the fence in such a way that my dog is not presently able to escape the yard. The contractor added, after Steve left of course, "I like your dog. She is a cute pooch."

I was quite upset, to say the least. I promptly called the city to inquire about my rights as a homeowner. Interestingly enough, they informed me that he actually has no permit to build the fence and as such, there's no way he'd actually know where the property line is without the permit. And to top it off, the contractor just came over to my house and asked me to check my phone line because he just "hit" the phone line in the back yard with his jackhammer. I neglected to tell him that I don't actually use AT&T. I'll let him sweat it.

So here is the dilema: Do I continue to grin and bear it (taking it on the cheek, so to speak), or do I finally stoop to his level and do something dastardely - like reporting him to the city for building the fence without a permit and also reporting him to Sunshine State One-Call for hitting the underground phone line. Of course my instincts tell me to do exactly that and much, much more. (Like pummeling him in the face.) But I really do hate to be that person. There is that part of me that wants to wait it out and see if he finally does the right thing. I suppose, when he screws me over and leaves an 8 foot gap in my fence, I could still call the city and report him. It just makes me sick to my stomach to be put into this situation. I am a very easygoing fellow and I really do genuinely want to be able to love everyone, no matter how unlovable they may seem to be.


revolution said...

And yes, Chris, this is the very same fence that you and I killed ourselves trying to erect. I am eternally grateful to you for helping me with that task, despite Steve's ruining negating our hard work today.

Chris Goeppner said...

im not going to give ou some super-spiritual advise. you gotta look out for your family dude. yer nieghbor is breaking the law and it is effecting your domain. there is nothing wrong with that. i feel bad for you bro. maybe you could train your dog to "sick 'em"

Natty Bummpo said...

all i have to say is that you are a better person than I. I most likely would have stoopedt o his elvel a long, long time ago. lol

the8thperson said...

Dude! Our fence. That's it... I'm comin' over! Bro, I agree with chris #2. The wife and the pooch come first, respectively.

Lela said...

I think when it comes to the safety of your loved ones (including your family pets), you have a responsibility to try to resolve a situation like this in the best way possible. You've tried reasoning with him, and that hasn't worked.

It may be time to report him if he's breaking the law. We live in an apartment building, and when we've had problems with neighbors, we try first to resolve them directly with those neighbors. But when that doesn't work, then taking appropriate steps to try to resolve those issues through building management, calling the police for noise problems (we have a child and having a drunk man screaming obsenities over a loud stereo on a school night is disturbing in the least), or whatever is called for becomes necessary.

In fact, doing those things keeps us from stooping to less Christian-like behavior (like my roommate wanting to go out and throw drunken neighbors off the balcony so they'll stop yelling over their loud stereo). Sometimes, people just aren't willing to work with you or take anyone else's needs into consideration.

It may not win points with him, but maybe it will be an opportunity for God to open his eyes to his own selfishness down the road a bit?

Mayoliv said...

F** that guy, I am a strong believer in patience and understanding but that guy is taking advantage of the turn the other check method. I would call the city as soon as he is done building the fence that way they make him tear it down as well as call the phone service and tell the about the phone line which was illegally dug up. And if your fence was on your property line I'll help you with one of my friends to take that guy to small claims court about your fence. And by giving you this advise I'm going the political way because years ago I would have helped you to beat him until he learned the right way to do things. But he's lucky we have all found the right way to do things rather than the wrong.

BP said...

Lew, Kick that guy's a*****.

Are you forgetting that you were born and raised in Taylor and went to school with Joe C?

If it makes you feel any better, I'd have to believe that Jesus himself would float over the fence and rough him up a little for those infractions.

See you in a few days.


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