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I Know a Thing or Two About Bad Neighbors

September 15, 2012

First, before I begin, let me explain my absence.  I know it’s been over a week and a half since my last blog post, but I really have no reason for the lack of posts.  I mean, it could be just a matter of procrastination, but during the same span, I posted 5 new blogs on my fantasy sports site.  Meanwhile, I kept writing and re-writing this blog, because it all kept coming out angry. So, after MUCH editing, and removing a lot of the story of my time in Tucson, it feels a lot less angry and I can finally post this thing.

It All Started With a Crap Reality Show

I watch too much television.  I get that.  It leads to angry moments with Nickelodeon and hatred toward children’s products, but I was born in the 70s and raised in the 80s, so it’s practically like a parent to me, that warm glowing box of brain rotting noise.  I recently happened across a reality show called “World’s Worst Tenants,” about a group of people hired by landlords to look into troublesome renters.  Two things struck me as I watched this show.

First off… it seems staged.   I mean, the grandmother who had a whole pot growing operation in her spare bedroom, but thought it was perfectly fine because she had her weed card?  The guy in the middle of the city with honey bee hives in his second floor apartment?  The hillbillies with a still?  That CAN NOT be real, can it?  (SPOILER ALERT: it’s fake as fuck).

The second thing, though, was that aside from the absolute extreme cases (like those listed here), I found myself thinking: frankly, I wouldn’t really mind having these people as neighbors.  I mean, hell, I’ve been a pretty bad neighbor myself in the past, like the time I stripped naked and yelled in the front yard.  But I have definitely had MORE than my share of bad neighbors in the past.

Like 50 First Dates, But Without the Cute Love Story

My current nightmare neighbor lives one house down on the other side of the street.  His name is Mark, and he lives in a house which his grandfather built in 1939.  The problem with Mark is twofold: for one thing, he’s an alcoholic. For another, he got into a bar fight several years ago, where he smashed his head on the ground and fell into a coma.  After a long period of time in the coma, he awoke, but he has short term memory problems, which are of course exasperated by his excessive drinking.  Here’s an example of how this can be annoying.

A couple of weeks ago, there was a knock at my door at around 5pm…

Mark: Hey, Mr. Todd! (I have no idea why he inserts Mr. before my first name)

Me: Hey, Mark.  What’s up?

Mark: I think I’m going to need some help moving some furniture around tomorrow.

Me: Okay, sure.  What time would you like me to come by?

Mark: Oh, I suppose about 8 in the morning should be good.

Me: Okay, no problem, man.  I’ll be there.

Then, sometime around 7pm, there was a knock at my door.

Mark: Hey, Mr. Todd!

Me: Oh, hey Mark.  What’s going on?

Mark: Oh, nothin’ much.  Hey I was just thinking I might need some help moving furniture tomorrow.

Me: Okay.  Want me to come by around 8 in the morning?

Mark:  8 o’clock?  Hmmm.  Yeah sounds good.

Later that evening, around 9:30pm, another knock at the door.

Mark: Hey, Mr. Todd!  Do you have any ice?

Me: (surprised that he’s not here to ask my help moving furniture) What?  Ice?  Uhm… yeah I think so.

Me: (returning a minute later with ice) Here ya go, Mark.

Mark: Cool, thanks, Mr. Todd.

Me: No problem

Mark: Say, while I’m here… I was thinking about moving some furniture tomorrow…

Yeah.  Three times that night, he asked the same favor.  The following morning at 8am I knocked at his door.  He wasn’t home. He had, in fact, forgotten all about asking my help and instead went fishing with some friends.  Two days later he was back at my door, asking if I could drop by the following morning and help him.  And, well, that’s just how it is with him. But I deal with it.. mainly because he’s a treat and a half compared to my previous next-door neighbor from when I lived in Tucson.

The Neighbors From Hell

In Tucson, I lived in a house in a really nice old neighborhood.  We loved the neighborhood, and I was walking distance from where I worked, and the kids were walking distance from their school.  It was a perfect location.  The house was cramped, but it seemed worth putting up with to have the convenience of being in the quaint neighborhood.  We met and immediately liked our next door neighbors on one side.  They were a younger couple with kids just starting out in the same school my kids would be going to.  We also met the neighbors directly behind our house and across the alley.  Again, they were a pleasant couple with kids in the same school.  So every morning, we would all meet up and walk to the school together.  It was the sort of hokey suburban thing I never thought I’d be a part of, and yet I kind of enjoyed it.

I got along with all my neighbors… except one.  They were the neighbors from hell.  The rumor around the neighborhood was that the man of the house, named Randy, used to sell drugs, but there were never enough cars coming and going for that to be true anymore.  The people who did drop by definitely seemed sketchy, but visitors were few and far between.  And, frankly, it’s no wonder.  These people were real assholes.  They never had a kind word to say.  They didn’t SPEAK TO people, they YELLED AT people.  And, usually, they yelled at me or my family from across the fence. There were actually a number of occasions where we almost came to blows.

Once, I had a friend visiting.  He’s a truck driver, and was passing through Tucson on a cross-country haul, so I invited him over for some bar-be-que.  He took me up on the offer, parking his truck so that it didn’t block the driveway of either of my neighbors (though completely blocking my own driveway).  Then, as we sat in the living room talking and eating, we noticed that the drivers door to his truck was standing wide open and someone was inside.  It was asshole neighbor, and when he was confronted, he began berating my friend for parking in front of his house.  His adult son stood and watched the exchange, laughing at his dad as he traded insults with myself and my friend, until asshole neighbor proved to be asshole dad and turned on his son, shouting, “Shut the fuck up and go inside Jared.”

Another time, some dogs had overturned our trash can, and as I crawled around on my hands and knees picking up the mess, he came out to yell at me about the pieces of garbage that had blown onto his lawn.  As he was screaming at me, I waited patiently for the opportunity to get a word in edgewise, at which point I asked him how the hell he knew it was my trash in his yard, since the same dogs who dumped my can had also overturned his.  He had been too busy verbally assaulting me to notice his own mess, and stormed into the house.  A moment later, his sheepish son emerged as asshole dad pushed him WITH HIS FOOT out the front door, yelling, “Clean the fucking yard, Jared.”

He made living there a nightmare.  I hated him, and never once had any sort of pleasant exchange with him.  If I said, “nice weather,” he’d reply something about how it’d be nicer if we’d clean up the yard so he could sit outside and enjoy it.  Once, when I commented on how nice his old GTO was, he told me that if I stole it or messed with it in any way he’d kill me and bury me in the desert.  Salt of the earth, this guy.  Frankly, I couldn’t get out of Tucson fast enough.

We were gone from Tucson a little over two months when I would hear of this neighbor once again.  More to the point, I would hear about the neighbor’s son.  You see, his name wasn’t “Shut the fuck up and go inside, Jared,” or, “Clean the fucking yard, Jared.”  His name was Jared Lee Loughner.  And Jared’s name and face would soon be splashed all over the news after he gunned down several people at a political rally held by congress woman Gabrielle Giffords in a Safeway parking lot.  He would shoot 19 people that day, including the congress woman, and would kill 6 of those people.  I watched as the media would paint the family as being “quiet” and “private” and thought to myself, private, yes, but far from quiet.

So… Short Term Memory Guy, Not So Bad After All

Someone should buy mark a Polaroid camera

In comparison, those alleged “World’s Worst Tenants” really don’t seem so bad in my opinion.  Set the Jacuzzi on fire? Go ahead!  Turn the bathtub into a moonshine still?  Sure, whatever!  Just don’t turn your children into psychotic mass murderers, and we’ll be just fine.

As for Memento Mark, he finally did get me to help him move furniture.  You see, he had a crew of people coming to put down new flooring.  So, I showed up on yet another agreed upon day, and we set to work moving the couch, chairs, and table out of the living room.  Then we moved the fridge and the stove out of the kitchen.  Then he said the phrase I will never forget, even as I’m sure he already has…

Mark: Now comes the hard part.

Me: Hard part?  (thinking, what the hell do you call all that appliance and furniture moving we just did?!)

That’s when he opened the door to the hoard.  Holy crap, people.  For future reference, if a neighbor asks you to help them move some things in their house… ALWAYS ask them if they’re a hoarder.  It isn’t rude, it’s merely gathering vital information!

  1. Holy crap, what an awful neighbour! I’ll never complain about mine not bringing the bins in again!

  2. Is this a true story? My mouth fell open in disbelief. Your asshole neighbor’s son was really the shooter??

    PS. I love Memento. That movie falls into the will “seriously fuck with your head” category along with Donnie Darko, The Usual Suspects, and Requiem for a Dream.

    • 100% true story. Also, you just named three of my all-time favorite movies there… Memento, Donnie Darko, and The Usual Suspects. I’ve somehow never seen Requiem for a Dream, though, but as you just put it in the company of those other awesome films, I might just have to.

      • Do it. And then let me know what you think. It’s the perfect movie to show to teenagers. They will NEVER want to do drugs. It’s fucking SCARY.

  3. Holy crap!! that’s a horrible neighbor.. All I’ve got are some weird children of the damned that stare at us whenever we go in our backyard. But… Like.. STARE. And not say anything. Then, Mom will come out and do the same. I’m beginning to think they are actually ghosts.

    Still tho, they are better than your crazy!



    • Haha… Yeah I gotta say children of the damned… or ghosts, or whatever… are totally preferable to a flesh and blood psychopath. At least it’s not YOUR house that’s haunted. It’s NEARLY haunted, or neighborly haunted. Adjacently haunted? Hmm… someone should really invent a term for that.

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