The Oral Report

Standing up in front of the class was never so much fun!

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Location: River City, United States

The rantings and ravings of a mom of three wonderful girls as she finds new love while working like a dog and shaking her fist at the system. You know. Pretty much like everybody else.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Garbage Wars!

Most of my patience is expended on my children. Frankly, I think that's where it should be expended. My fiance benefits a little from my vast resources, as do a number of people in my professional life, and various family members. I rarely have to employ any patience for my friends, but when the situation presents itself, I'm generally up to the task.

However, I'd like to clarify here, once and for all, that my patience for grown ups who take advantage of my considerate ways, is a pretty shallow pool to start with. Mistaking my passiveness for acceptance of rude behavior is an error most people don't make twice.

So, when I've done someone a good turn...or two...or four...or eight, well, I'm not necessarily looking for something in kind, but certainly some manner of thanks for the effort shouldn't be unspoken.

When someone does something nice for me, I show them what it meant to me. I send them a "thank you" note (old school, even old school in the south, I know), or I make or buy some token gift to thank them, or I demonstrate a like gesture. At the very least, I TELL them I appreciate them. It's what I was taught. It's what I teach my own children. It's what I'd like to teach the world.

Do you know why? Because the world isn't like that. Oh there are tiny pockets of it here and there, but mostly, people are self-centered asses who are only too happy to sponge off of the kindness and generosity of anyone who will show it to them. J-A-D-E-D. Uh huh.

Doesn't mean I don't start everyone on "go", though. Doesn't mean that everyone isn't given a clean slate. Does mean that if I've overlooked your egregious behavior over and over again, and you're a grown up, you're making it clear that you don't value me much.

Putting me in that position, is not the best way to see what a wonderful person I am. And I am. But there are people in my world (contractors mostly) who would laugh out loud if you asked them if I was kind. Possibly until they were choking.

I've simply done my job and when they HAVEN'T done theirs, well, I've assisted them in seeing the error of their ways. Life offers a number of educational opportunities. You are never, NEVER, too old to learn something new. I do it every day. And I'm fuckin' old. Mark Gibson will tell you so.

Whole lotta Christians absent from church on the days they talk about "love your neighbor as yourself." Though I guess it's easier to say it or think it than to actually LIVE it. So many people busy taking care of number one that they don't even acknowledge when someone does something for them. That level of rudeness is just intolerable.

As of late, our two upstairs neighbors have been wearing on my good graces. For some time now, actually.

The newest neighbor is a (barely) twenty-something single girl, who I understand is a Christian singer. (Funny, her Christianity must only be part of her professional act. It hardly shows at all the rest of the time.)

She's been living upstairs for a couple months now. We've had very little contact with her, but she seems unable (or, more likely, unwilling) to advise her visitors that the tiny parking lot directly behind our building is for residents only. There is a HUGE parking lot just on the other side of a fence (through which we have access) where visitors may park, and there is street parking in front of the house.

But, no. No matter how many times we make it clear, cars still find their way to resident's spots. Mostly mine. In fact, when I went home mid-day today, both of the vehicles for the upstairs neighbors were in their regular spots and a "visitor" car was in MY spot.

We've mentioned this to her. Explained the situation. She prefers to learn this lesson the hard way. And, as the landlords are friends of mine and I'm not shy about confronting her directly, I can handle that job, too.

I'm not sure what's going on with our other upstairs neighbors. A young married couple (they look like they're both in their teens, but I don't think they are), the "he" has been out of town a lot in the last few months. They have both been very nice to us and we get along well. I run into her in the basement doing laundry regularly. When my kids have been locked out (2-3 times), they've allowed my girls to use the phone to call for help. "He" has helped with a couple minor car issues as well. I've baked them a pie, given them a plant, invited them over to share a cold watermelon with us on the front porch.

Unfortunately though, while I am still friendly with the "she", since "he"'s been out of town, certain previously shared responsibilities in the building have fallen to us to do.

Our four-plex has two large black trash receptacles at the back of the house. Each Sunday night, SOMEONE (and my landlord does not make a special appearance to do so and neither do the sanitation engineers who empty the cans each week) has to take the fully-laden cans to the alley to be emptied (very early) Monday morning by the appropriate personnel. Further, each Monday, after the cans have been emptied, SOMEONE (again) has to return them to the back of the building for the general use of all the residents.

When we first moved in, we shared the responsibility with the (then) upstairs neighbors. After they moved out, and we were the only residents in the building, it was all ours to do. Of course, it was all our trash, too. After the young couple moved in upstairs, we, once again, began sharing that responsibility. One of us would wheel the cans out on Sunday night, and the other would wheel them back on Monday afternoon.

I don't know that I ever saw the "she" doing it. It was generally the "he". Which is sexist, as far as I'm concerned. Everyone (except my 6 year old) in our place has had a turn at it, and the lack of a penis hasn't seemed to inhibit the female members of our household from being able to manage it at all.

While "he" has been out of town, "she" hasn't made any effort, whatsoever, to help cart her own trash out on pick-up day. The Christian singer hasn't done it once.

Now, I realize that we generate far more trash than either of our upstairs neighbors do. So, it's not as if I expect them to haul two huge bins of trash out to the alley each week, when they may have one small bag included. But in two months, they could have hauled the cans back a few times. Or even taken them out once. But no.

Not once.

And every week over the past two months, I've gotten madder and madder about it. I don't get a break on my rent to be the trash person around this place. And I'm not interested in the honorary title. We've taken the lead on keeping the front porch clean (even to the extent of putting flower boxes out with flowers that we paid for, planted and maintain) for everyone's benefit. We've taken the lead on cleaning out the basement and keeping it that way. We keep the front common hallway swept and clean.

So, this week, when [Kid 1] wheeled the cans out to the alley on Sunday night...again...I put my foot down. I have dared anyone in my apartment to bring those cans back to the house. And I'm pretty sure they all know exactly how serious I am about it.

If one of my neighbors can't take it upon themselves to bring the cans back the 30 yds. to the house, the damned cans will stay there from now on. I will take the trash we generate out to the alley if I must.

Until this becomes a cooperative again, Apt. #1 is on strike. I'm so tired of people mistaking us for doormats because of the good will we wear on our sleeves. Fortunately, I know the solution to this problem.

The upside, of course, is the opportunity to teach my daughters that EVERYONE (including us) deserve to be treated fairly and with respect, as well as how to deal with it when you aren't. I'm only sorry there are so many people out there who simply REFUSE to acknowledge or appreciate the kindnesses and good will shown to them. It's an incredibly sad statement about how people are willing to treat each other and how very self-involved we, as a society, have become. Everyone in the village is too busy taking care of their own, to raise and/or educate the rest of the "children".

In the meantime, right here in River City, school is now in session.


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