Saturday, February 18, 2006

Why Is Your Car Parked on My Lawn?

This morning when I went downstairs to take out the trash, I opened the door and right in front of the doorstep was a car. A big read Pontiac was sitting with its bumper resting against the front step. We're talking parked on the front sidewalk and the lawn in a manner that implies "take me drunk I'm home". There was hardly room for me to get out the front door. Sadly, this has now happened about three times and what I thought was a bizarre, random occurrence, I'm afraid is developing into a pattern. I'm not sure whose car this is, but I think it belongs to our new crazy downstairs neighbors.

My original downstairs neighbors moved out because the landlord raised the rent about $400. These were my cool neighbors, who were nice and clean and most importantly kept to themselves (although we did chat on occasion). And now two hell-spawn young party girls have moved in. Why do I think the car is theirs? Well, for one thing D saw them rolling out the other night to get into a car (it was dark so not sure which one) with their lite beers in hand. Also the entire downstairs now smells like weed and they've taken to burning candles in the common hallway to disperse the smell. It's a fire hazard, but I'll give them points for not resorting to incense to cover the weed smell because that stuff makes me absolutely sick.

So I think its a safe bet that the red car belongs to one of these two upstanding young gals. D is concerned that this will lead to other forms of ghetto behavior -- i.e. poor trash maintenance ultimately leading to bug infestations. And I'm sure as everyone knows at this point, those giant cockroaches absolutely terrify me. (In fact it is one my sister's favorite jokes to put plastic ones out and watch me freak out). So what to do? It's been suggested that I talk to them, but I don’t think I can do this in a calm and rational manner. Everything I can think to say would be completely condescending, like “Drinking and driving may be your lifestyle choice, but you’re going to have to work on your technique.”

Oh my god, I am my mother. And just like nothing productive ever came from my mother yelling at me, I have no doubt that nothing productive could be derived form such a rant. In fact, it would more likely start an all out war. Maybe I will let D handle the crazies.

On another level, I am sort of enjoying this because while I may be the evil overlord to these neighbors, an evil overlord has manifested herself to me. A few weeks ago I came out to my car to find a note tucked under my windshield wiper. It was typed in blue ink (with pink ink for the parts emphasized) on white paper. I have preserved the poor grammar and the insanity of the typeface of the note. It almost seems like it was written in a foreign language and then translated into English, so please enjoy:

Your neighbors are asking for your understanding and cooperation of the parking challenge which we are facing on a daily basis.

Every house in this area has multiple vehicles. It is requested that you park directly in front of the house which you live or if parking is available behind the house, then you park in that parking area.

Working with other tenants in your house may be necessary to arrange two cars to park directly in front of the house.

There are a few younger girls who work late evenings and are finding it necessary to park away from their homes late at night and walk to their house. I’m sure you’ll agree that they should be able to park in front of the houses where they live and pay rent.

If your landlord has not provided ample parking, please speak with him/her to resolve issues for the house in which you are renting.

Thank you in advance for parking only in front of the home where you live…and thank you for managing any visitors who are parking in front of your neighbor’s home.

I found this note puzzling as I was parked on the very public street on which we live, and although I was not parked directly in front of our house, I was just beyond it. I then remembered that my friend had gotten a similar note when he parked on one of the public side streets near our house, and so I did not feel even remotely bad because clearly the person who sent this is crazy – if people cannot park on the main street or the side street just where exactly did he/she think they would park? Are people never to have visitors? And who appointed this person hall monitor anyway?

Best of all, this is the smallest the population in the city is ever going to be. If she thinks this is a “crisis”, what happens if more people come back? Will that be a “super-crisis”? Will we be on red alert?

I tossed the note in my back seat and ran my errand to the drugstore thinking no more about the craziness. When I came back, this woman with a pug (not on a leash mind you) accosted me, “Can I ask you why you don’t park in front of your house?” Ah. Clearly, this is the nut job who left the note.

“Well, it’s a public street, so I can legally park anywhere on this side of the line,” I said politely as I tried to manage my bags. “Well, we have some girls who live here and they come home late at night and have to park far away,” she said with more hostility in her voice. I calmly pointed out that I am in fact a girl myself and I too often come home late. “Well, why don’t you park behind your house.”

At this point I just sighed. I explained how our neighbors have 4 very large, scary, barking dogs (this might be her house, I don’t know). There is a measly little fence between me and the dogs and there are no less than 3 “BEWARE OF DOGS” signs on this 10 feet of fence. Once I came home and the dogs had gotten out and they are by no means friendly. Also, I’ve seen rats back there, raccoons (our neighbors called animal control to get them) and last but not least those giant cockroaches that I am terrified of. This back lot is not lit, and it is scary when you come home late at night and I am far more afraid of our back parking lot than I am of walking six blocks on the well lit, busy street. Plus, we enter through our front door so it is logical to park near that door. I then suggested that her girls are welcome to take my spot in the scary lot. This was of course not acceptable, so I just shrugged my shoulders.

“Well, why don’t you talk to this person parked here in front of your house and have them move up so you can both park there?” The space she was referring to was not meant for two cars as it is a little island between two driveway entrances and you’re supposed to be something like 2 feet from each driveway entrance. “I don’t know that person,” I told her truthfully. “Well you need to park in front of your house,” she said finally. Mind you, the street was more or less empty with plenty of parking to be had for all.

Having had enough, I calmly informed her I would park “wherever I damn well please as long as its legal”. I know, I know –losing my temper like that is not good. And I am usually accommodating as a general rule, but this lady was seriously annoying me. “You’re being very confrontational,” she said. “I consider your note confrontational,” I said. “Well, we’re just asking you to be a good neighbor.” Apparently I was single handedly putting “her girls” in danger; me and my car and harbingers of doom. At that point I just walked off, tired of trying to juggle my bags and talk to this nitwit. As my father likes to say “Never argue with an idiot in public – people may have a hard time telling which is which.” This advice may be hard to follow if I am to become a lawyer, but oh well.

I halfway hoped pug lady would call the police about this so they could laugh at her. As I was turning my keys in the door she shouted, “You need to go pray about this!” and then I dropped my bag with light bulbs in it. Dammit dammit dammit. I wanted to shout back, “Why don’t you ask Jesus for more parking?” but that would be crass, so I was silent.

I told D what had happened and she said she had seen the same lady on “neighborhood patrol” picking up garbage in our neighborhood. While I think trash pickup by citizens is a good thing, this woman is clearly a self styled martyr. I doubt her tenants have ever even complained to her about parking. The next day D saw the pug lady. D said she said “sized her up and watched to see which car she got into.” D plans to have her own note ready about “harassment” in case the lady accosts her.

As long as I lived in Dallas (a city with more parking issues than NOLA) I did not have any sort of similar experience. There’s something about this city that many of the residents have an unchecked sense of entitlement. Big N had an old lady in her apartment complex pound on her door one day screaming that Big N had parked in HER parking space. Um, what gives here people? If you’re handicapped, the city will create a spot for you at your residence. Otherwise, it’s first come first serve on public streets.

Two days later there was small-dog poop on our doorstep. I have no doubt that it was courtesy of the pug lady. I hope she is enjoying the red Pontiac parked on our lawn. Is that in front of our house enough for you?!

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