Month: November 2014

Please don’t apologize

Recently a very close friend called me after several months of very, very little contact. Even though I keep this blog pretty anonymous, I’m still not going to go into the details of why my friend sort of disappeared for a while. The thing is, when she did call me and explain everything that had been happening — and let me be clear, she was and is going through some very serious grief and hardship — she apologized for being out of touch. You’re apologizing to me for not making sure I know every little detail of your life? I’m not entitled to that. You’re entitled to your privacy. You deserve to have some time to deal with things on your own. How can you apologize to anybody when you’re the one who should be receiving apologies?

Then the other day I got a call from the St. Joseph the Worker group at my church. I signed up with them a few weeks ago. The mission is to pretty much be there to provide help when it’s needed. If someone needs a ride to the doctor, or maybe an elderly person really needs some strong young people to move something heavy for them, etc., they can call SJW, and the group calls someone who’s already registered to help with “odd jobs.” When you sign up, you tell them what you can do, and what days you’re usually available. If you’re not available when they call, it’s okay, and they just go to the next person on the list. It’s really awesome in my opinion.

So anyway, I got a call from SJW asking me if I could drive a lady downtown for a medical procedure next Friday. I was happy to say yes because… honestly, I need to be needed. I’m a Christian. It’s my job to fulfill needs. The hardest part is figuring out who needs me to do what. I love it when I’m asked to do something specific, and when I know I’ll actually be helping someone. So I got in touch with the lady, but she said she might not need me, but then again she might, so she’s wondering if I could keep Friday morning open. Basically she’s having some pain that she’ll receive treatment for on Monday, but she’s not sure if the treatment will be effective. So I’m thinking, “I’ll just drive you either way.” I don’t know… The SJW people told me that this woman has been helping other people for years. Now she seems shy about receiving help unless she really, really needs it.

There’s plenty of talk about how people are very self-entitled nowadays. There are plenty of stories about people who just take and take and take, and can hardly be bothered to say, “Thanks.” But there are still some amazing people out there who even when they are suffering, think about others. Even when they’re in need, they don’t want to inconvenience someone else. Even when they took only what they needed (in my friend’s case, time), they feel like they took more than they should have. What if we were all like that? It’s very humbling.

I just want to enjoy the fresh air (venting)

I’m having issues with some of my neighbors. It’s not that they let their children run around the street like wild animals, leaving their toys and scooters everywhere and just randomly screaming. It’s not that they themselves are always out on the street yelling at the kids or each other. It’s not their music. It’s not their cigarette smoke or their drunken slurring.

It’s just their fire pits. I live in a small community of townhouse style units. Nobody has a yard, and nobody is allowed to have a fire pit. That makes sense to me. If I can smell what the neighbors are cooking for dinner, and I can hear the conversations they’re having outside while I’m sitting on the second or third floor of my place, of course I can smell — and be completely overwhelmed by — the billows of smoke coming out of their fire pit…. that they’re not supposed to have.

I get wanting that feel. I get that some people like the smell of wood smoke. I get that a lot of these people are from the country where they probably grew up acres (or at least tens of yards) away from their neighbors, and burned wood all the time. I understand that country people like to do that more than, say, people from St. Pete, Florida, like me. But here’s the thing. We all like the cool, fresh, autumn air, right? So why pollute it? If you’re okay with inhaling known carcinogens, that’s okay too, but why force your kids to breathe that too? And why your neighbors? Isn’t there a way to have a good time without sitting in front of a fire pit drinking?

A lot of people would say, “close your windows,” but the bottom line is that the rules say fire pits aren’t allowed. Now it’s just a matter of getting the rules enforced. But even if it weren’t for the rules, why should I close my windows? If someone’s neighbors are blaring music so loud that his apartment is shaking, is the solution really, “Use some ear plugs?” Of course not. Why shouldn’t I get to enjoy the fall air after all these months of super hot and dry weather? Why shouldn’t I get to keep the windows open and lower my electric bill and my carbon footprint? I don’t do anything to bother these people. They do a lot to bother me, but I only complain about one thing.

A group of these neighbors came by my place around 10 last night. They started by saying, “We’re sorry if we…” but ended by saying, “You’ve pissed off a lot of people,” and other things like that. They were drunk, and they thought we had called security on them for their blaring music, which we had not done. (Apparently that means we are not the only ones annoyed by these inconsiderate people.) We told them we had never complained about the music or anything else except the fire pit. We were honest and said that we wouldn’t stop complaining about the fires ever, because they’re against the rules and we hate them, period. Of course they were drunk and talking over each other and getting emotional, and I told them if they really wanted to talk about anything, they should come ring my door bell when they were sober.

Some of them were mad that we had called security without talking to them first. Again, we didn’t call this time, but we have called about the fires before. As I explained to my one sober neighbor, I don’t confront groups of drunk people, let alone drunk Marines and their drunk hyper-aggressive wives. As far as I’m concerned, if there’s someone who’s trained to do that, whose job it is to do that in my neighborhood, I will by all means call that person.

So what to do now? Keep trying to talk to the leasing office or the district manager to get the fire pits contained. Keep having drunk crazy people cussing and complaining on the street because someone else justifiably called security because of their loudness?

I’m not even trying to get philosophical or anything. I’m a Christian, so of course I’ve tried to be considerate of my neighbors too. I get that they want to have a good time. That’s why I think it’s a reasonable compromise to not complain about them making tons of noise all the time, if they’re willing to do that without also burning wood upwind of my unit. It’s just frustrating. I try hard to be civilized. I cuss at home, but not to strangers, and definitely not at them. I definitely don’t use words like “motherfucker” around people I have never met before, or if there are children around. I try to be considerate. I don’t make noise. I’ve asked my next door neighbors if I’ve done anything to annoy them, and they’ve said no. I don’t gossip about anybody, ask anybody for anything, or get obnoxious when I drink (I rarely drink anyway, but still). Why is it so crazy to expect the neighbors to follow the community rules and let me enjoy having my windows open? Would not burning wood on the street really get in the way of them having a good time?

Stuff like this makes me miss Japan. I don’t even understand this. I’ve lived in places where everybody was single, and it’s not really surprising to hear music and parties and things; but I’ve never lived anywhere with neighbors who were this into partying and generally loudly socializing on the street… even though all of these people have families! I thought part of growing up was settling down. Putting the shot glasses and red Solo cups away when you have a couple of kids. Going to sleep before midnight because you and your spouse need to get up and go to work tomorrow. Responsibility. Courtesy. But I’m pretty sure living in the barracks as an airman wasn’t this bad. Living in a berthing with 50+ other people wasn’t this bad. Living in a dorm probably isn’t this bad. I just expected better I guess. And I’m sure these people all think I’m a bitch or something, when really I think I’m pretty laid back and liberal about all that goes on. *shrug*

I guess I’ll just get back to my homework until one of them decides to come ring on my doorbell and talk to me sober.