Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Neighbor Torture Redux

I have been a liberal my entire life. My father has given me very little parenting advice save for one gem: "If you children become republicans, disown them." And now, here I am, poised to make the most conservative statements of my life, all because my horrible, inconsiderate, obnoxious neighbors will not leave us alone.

I am currently sitting in my living room, listening to them do G-d knows what to the floor upstairs. My guess? He is sledghammering the tile and ripping it up piece by piece. I am sure he is doing it wrong. I am sure that this little project will bring more water onto our ceiling given that everything he does, he half asses. I guess he figures he will try it one way and if that does not work, he'll fix it. Meanwhile, I am certain our property value will decline.

Did he tell us of this little project? Um, nope. Did he warn us that he would spend my baby's sleeptime doing the single noisiest thing I have ever heard in a house in which I live? Um, no again. Is he blocking the driveway while 15 of his little minions haul the trash from their little project into his massive van? Of course.

Call it a culture clash. It certainly is. They come from a much more communal and impoverished culture where people help eachother out and do not complain about their neighbor's trash, noise or occassional water damage. I suppose there are no regulations where he grew up regarding building codes and safety. Last week when he told us they were selling (I've yet to see evidence), he also told us that he has lived on our block for 14 years and never had a problem until us.

Our neighborhood is gentrifying. Just one street over, the condos are going for upwards of 700K (for a two bedroom). This gives me hope and the whole reason we bought in a "neighborhood in transition" is to be part of the gentrification. Once the new subway line is installed, we expect to make at least 100K on our sale--as long as our neighbor moves. He mars the neighborhood with his fleet of jalopies and mud-caked commercial vehicles. He produces trash like no one I have seen and lets his shirtless minions sit on our front porch picking their toes.

Generally I am an easy going person with respect to other people's lives and mistakes. I never send food back in a restaurant. I am always nice to airline people and insurance carriers--even when they are inept and trying to screw me. But this is too much. It is costing us money, happiness, sanity and sleep.

This entire experience is giving me a new perspective on immigration (they are all illegal). I do not want to be the person who is liberal until they are personally affected, but I am sort of disgusted by the self avowed liberals who judge me for wanting to call INS when they live on a suburban lily pad. I am chest deep in our immigration problem. I did not ask to live in a another country, where their rules reign, but that is my current situation.

A few weeks ago, a this study was released by a Harvard scholar. In it the writer says:

"a massive new study, based on detailed interviews of nearly 30,000 people across America, has concluded just the opposite. Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam -- famous for "Bowling Alone," his 2000 book on declining civic engagement -- has found that the greater the diversity in a community, the fewer people vote and the less they volunteer, the less they give to charity and work on community projects. In the most diverse communities, neighbors trust one another about half as much as they do in the most homogenous settings. The study, the largest ever on civic engagement in America, found that virtually all measures of civic health are lower in more diverse settings."

I completly understand why. The diversity in my little microcosm has shut me down, made me furious and made me distrustful. I don't understand them and they don't understand me. I used to think that people could coexist and learn from eachother. Now I am not so sure.

1 comment:

Kristi said...

Your neighbors sound completely awful. I would like to think your situation is unique and not indicative of the results of the study, but I'm not so sure.