Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Neighbors, Part II

We moved to that old house by Jack Murphy Stadium after escrow closed and quickly learned that there were no "parents" at the home across the street. The men were independent and in their mid-twenties sharing a home--and they were anything but quiet. We got along very well with them, being in our twenties ourselves. However, it was a constant loud party atmosphere. One day they came over and invited us to their pajama party. How sweet, we thought. So we got the boys ready. We were still home when their guests started to arrive. We peeked out of the window and had to cover the boys' eyes. It was a pajama party alright, but not for kids.

Later, I pulled up to my house to find an undercover detective sitting in a car at my curb, staring intently at the house across the street. Way to be incognito. He knocked at my door and asked me a variety of questions about the men who lived there. I couldn't answer most of them, except to tell him that people came by night and day, and it was one big continuous party. He told me that they were being investigated for selling drugs. What a shock.

The lady who lived next door to the party house was older. She was the street gossip and I dreaded bumping into her when I left my house (we didn't have a garage, so we had to park in the one-car driveway and street). I was leaving with my then four-year-old son, when she cornered me. I had let my son in the car already and was about to buckle him in when she approached. I tried to say goodbye many times, but she would ignore me and continue to talk.

She went on relentlessly about everyone, especially the men who lived next door to her. As I intently watched her lips moving at warp speed, I noticed, through the corner of my eye, that my car starting to drift forward. At first I thought my eyeballs were just rolling to the back of my head, but as the car inched past me, I realized that I had to act quickly. I ran to the driver side door, opened it, and jumped in head first, pushing the brake pedal down with the palm of my hand. My son had been playing in the driver's seat and released the emergency brake. As I lay on my belly half way in and half way out of the car, blowing a piece of grass off my lips, my neighbor looked down at me and said, "You know, you really should watch him more closely when he's in the car." All I can say is that she was lucky my hands were busy.

We moved from there to the idyllic neighborhood of Sabre Springs (north county San Diego). The people on our street of 10 homes all moved in on the same week and we instantly bonded. All had children, except for one couple, two doors up from our house. They were very vocal about their disdain for kids. They were young, but had already decided that they were not going to spawn. Otherwise, we were very happy there until the developer opened up the street to a very pricey neighborhood above us (this was disclosed when we bought the home).

Unfortunately, the builder did not take precautions to ensure that the traffic did not exceed the speed limit when they flew down the hill passed our homes. We tried to reason with the developer to no avail, and the city wouldn't listen, either. This forced us to picket the grand opening and call the television stations so that there would be bad publicity associated with the ritzy development. The next day, a representative from the company called and explained that the city would be installing a stop sign within two weeks--and they did.

No one seemed to pay attention to the stop sign. This was a problem, as there were many kids on our block. Although we didn't allow our children to play in front unsupervised, other parents did. They also let them roam by themselves. We wanted a road bump (aka, speed bump). The city said that it would be impossible because it was a major inlet for emergency vehicles to access the new neighborhood. Also, the street was too wide. Both of these reasons completely precluded installation of a road bump. So I called our council member and had her representative attend a meeting at our house. I made sure that the neighbors would be present and vocal about our need to slow the traffic. There was only one household opposed to the bump--you guessed it. I guess her Corvette was too low to clear the bump, and they were worried about property values. However, because of the traffic on the street, I felt that it would improve property values (we had no trouble selling it years later).

When the time of the meeting came, I was surprised to find the Corvette owner at my door. I graciously let her in. In the middle of the meeting, she stood up and announced that they were opposed to the road bump because it would scrape the bottom of their car, regardless of the danger that the traffic posed to the children, and would fight it tooth and nail. The bump was approved and installed--and the Corvette cleared it by a mile.

Now for the winner of the "All Time Worst Neighbor" award. . .

In this same Sabre Springs neighborhood, as I've mentioned twice before on this blog, there was a man who lived four houses down from ours. He was a very nice guy and helpful neighbor. Everyone liked him. Unfortunately, he's on Death Row right now for kidnapping a child from her bed (six years ago this month), torturing, and brutally killing her. The family lived two doors down from us in the opposite direction of Corvette couple. Yep, a child-molesting killer, living a few houses away, pretty much takes the cake for worst neighbor ever. (D, we will always remember.)

I'm pleased to inform you that after being here in Whine Country for almost five years, we have had the most quiet and considerate neighbors of anywhere we've lived. Maybe it's due to the fact that our houses are hundreds of feet apart. There was a rooster next door to us that was somewhat annoying, but he's been long gone. Everyone here just tries to be considerate of others, and, with a little effort, we live in peace.