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Neighbors

There's a group of about six houses down the hill and everyone drives by my house, mostly neighborly slow, but a couple of them barrel by multiple times a day on their way to town. After some years of this I put up two SLOW PLEASE signs last winter but took them down after a week or so because they seemed like a bright shining yellow blight on our little country lane and I figured they got the message although I didn't keep track to check for sure. (It might have been like the DRINK WATER post-its I pinned up all over the house once—after a while I didn't even notice them.) 

In the big picture does it really matter that a couple of thoughtless people speed by? Not really, though some car or truck did kick a pebble up onto my windshield resulting in a $70 repair. When I drive by houses in a neighborhood I go very slow, the rest of the time I also like to step on it.

I figured out what I could tell the guy who speeds past, often with one of those weed-grower trailers bouncing around behind him. I would ask him to slow down and my main point would be if the roles were reversed and I drove through his little cluster of houses down the hill on the way to and from town would they want me blazing through four times a day? (We're on a private road, does that mean I have access to the whole road? Maybe I should just drive down there twice a day to the dead end as fast as they go and see if they like it?)

I could just ask him to slow down but why would he? Why should he? Who am I to ask him for anything? For the fast drivers to slow down they would actually have to think of me, give a shit, and drive respectfully. Frankly, for a guy like this, probably raised like an animal on a dope farm, it might be better to just say nothing, maybe try the signs again, right?

Which brings us to the other speedster who probably also doesn't want to have to think about me everyday, slow down, and waste two seconds of her busy day every time she goes out to work or shop—who wants that?

Yesterday she asked me for twelve garden stakes and I said sure as I have a thousand or so left over, lying all over the place, stacked or buried in piles in the underbrush. What can I pay you for them she asked. I thought about it and said how about some squash, I don't even have a zucchini here this year. No she said, she doesn't have any veggies, just herbs.

Later I thought wait a minute, I'll trade her the stakes for driving slowly past my house! If she wastes two seconds four times a day slowing down, over a year that would be about forty-eight minutes of her valuable time, just for me to have a good feeling when she drives by, like she cares. Though maybe she wouldn't really care as she might feel forced to give up the forty-eight minutes by her desire to have garden stakes. I would like her to be aware that she's doing a nice thing for me.

I originally spent two dollars each for the stakes, maybe they're still worth a dollar each, but really I would just give her the twelve she wants except now I'm realizing I could leverage something out of the deal which I would really appreciate: one more motorist on this road who is neighborly and gives a shit. 

I learned my lesson about being stingy with those stakes a couple years ago: another young woman (as you probably can guess the speedsters are in their thirties) who had helped me stake my plants the year before asked if she could have some and when I tried to charge her a dollar each she said she could get plastic ones from Dazey's for sixty cents. She stopped texting, calling, and she never visited me again.

The reason I tried to charge her was because I didn't want our friendship to depend on me giving her things. So I was right! I didn't give and she dissed me. But that was a big mistake, I should have just been generous and not worried about those dynamics: she was nice, she was fun, she is gone, and I still have my thousand stakes.

So if I tell the working girl the trade is stakes for slowing down I will have to be very specific as she is argumentative, knows her rights, and might lecture me fully on her free will and people like me who are trying to take her freedom away, how she has a busy stressful life and doesn't have the time or desire to think about me wanting to feel good about her every day when I notice her passing by. 

I will have to be very clear: please crawl by at ten miles an hour every day for the rest of your life—that's a lot of stakes! I shouldn't have to bribe you with stakes, you should want to drive slowly and respectfully. Do I not deserve your respect? Okay, that's an open question I suppose.

So what's gonna happen? I predict she will reject the deal and I'll just give her the stakes anyway—I'm not a monster!

One Comment

  1. Bear September 15, 2022

    All we can do is ask nice for what we wish for. That’s what I learned with a parallel situation of noisy neighbors. Some apologize and some diss me. Their reaction is on them. Ended up in court with a couple of them – won one, lost one – such is life.

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