Had the need, the occasion to visit a new neighbor yesterday. I wanted to introduce myself and talk about the house next door to both of us.
It gets to the core of the safety of the street, this need I have to talk to the new people. A nearby house, abandoned since Hurricane Florence, has started to attract squatters and druggies. The squatters have set fire to the floors, stolen all the remaining, albeit nasty, furniture, and spray painted the windows. So we thought it a good idea to introduce ourselves to the people catty-cornered to said squatter house and ask them to call the police if they saw anyone in the squatter house.
I knock gently on front door. A guy leans out the door and shouts (really, he shouted) “What do YOU want?”
I figure I’d best state my business really quickly — before I even have time to assess with whom I’m speaking. “I’m your neighbor…”
“Yeah?!! Where do you live?!”
I point to our house. It’s 100 feet away. “Right there, on the corner.”
“The wooden fence, right there. Across the street.”
“Ok,” he says, “what do you want?”
“The brick house…”
By then my husband has joined me and he hasn’t heard Mr. Pleasant speak yet so he’s not prepared for any negative dialog. I, by this time, have shriveled up into a little insecure ball on the front porch, unsure where to go with my conversation.
He says, “I called the police on it. I AM the ONE who called the police.”
“Good,” I say. “The house is attracting squatters. We wanted to warn you … tell you to call the police but I see you already have. Thank you.” I begin to back off the porch, to leave.
Then he comes out onto the front porch. “Sorry, I’m defensive. I’m always defensive.” He laughs to himself, “I cut hair for a living.”
Ok, I think. Good for you. He says, “Hang on, let me get my wife.” She comes out. She’s Beaufort County nice. A real foil to Mr. Pleasant. We talk, the four of us, about the squatter situation and the deplorable state of the house across the street from us. Now I realize, as I write this, that someone being rude when you knock on their door? His reaction was probably what people expect when they knock on a stranger’s door. I realize, as I write this, that I’m the weirdo. I expect people to greet my smile with a like countenance. I’m the weirdo.
It’s not the way we act in our neighborhood. But … it is the norm. When the Jehovah’s Witnesses came by this morning, we answered the door, took a Watchtower, and thanked them. No more conversation than that. I don’t invite strangers into my house, heck, some of my neighbors have never been inside our house. We talk yard-to-yard almost daily. We wave when we drive up to the house. It’s a small street, only five houses plus the squatter/crack house.
We’re polite. Mr. Pleasant, who told me he would never buy a house in our neighborhood, he RENTS because of the flooding. He ridiculed us for living here. He said he was “going to the sailboat the rest of the day” because he couldn’t handle being harassed. As if I were harassing him. Gosh, his wife was nice.
I really do hope they call the police the next time they see anyone at the crack house. Mr. Pleasant told me the house was condemned. That he knew someone who was in city government (turns out it was my son-in-law) who told him condemnation was coming soon. Backtracked a bit.
Gosh his wife was nice.